Monday, Feb 28

Creedence Cearwater Revival… Revivial -Graffiti’s

Toronto, Ontario

Today is (sort of) my birthday. Won’t actually be my birthday until next year. Feb 29, but this is close enough.

In order to get me through a shit time that I had, I started this band when I returned home from Chicago. The goal, a doubling ensemble that played only CCR tunes.

I scored a gig, on my birthday at Graffiti’s. It was the last, as you can see, of a string of six.

I head down to the BC space to pick up the drums at 7. Andrew Haust has kindly offered me the use of his 26″ kick drum. Boosh. I fill the car with percussion, slowly and head to graffiti’s to drop them off. It’s my birthday, there’s no way that I’m driving. When I get there, the owner is hanging around. He informs me we’re to be done by midnight. He also tells me that there have been a lot of calls about the show, people asking if there were still tickets. Someone even called thinking that the extra revival was a typo and that CCR was actually playing at a little dive in Kensington market.

I head over to Matt Bailey’s place because he’s picked me up some flip top bottles. He gives me a nice present of Irish beer, Kilkennym Guiness and Smithwicks. He’s a good man. I race home so I can give the car to my dad we can drive down together. Noah is already in Kensington. We arrive and I go to Fat Craft Burger for a decent Canadian burger. I get mine to go and head back to Graffiti’s to eat then I help Lenny and Laser load in the amps and such. It’s 9:00 and Alastair of the Slocan Ramblers is running late. No worries. An older trio of people haveshown up and are looking to see the CCR cover band, unfortunately we go on past their bed time. All the Slocans show up at 9:40 and get going quick. They play for a good half hour. As they show up, the place fills. It’s actually magical, I feel so blessed to have all these wonderful friends.

After they play, we immediately get moving. Set up is quick and the place is rammed. Laser gets his tone right and we blast into Born on the Bayou.

There are some communication issues aboutthe shots, but it goes really well. After the first song, Nevin’s amp dies and he has to go DI. It’s bull.

Set list

Set list:
1. Born on the Bayou
2. Proud Mary
3. Before you Accuse Me
4. Lodi
5. Lookin’ out my Back door
6. Fortunate Son
7. Down on the Corner
8. Travelin’ Band
9. Bad Moon Rising
10. I heard it Through the Grapevine
11. Long as I can See the light

Things broke down a bit in Lodi and a lot in Travelin’ Band. BUt whatever. People were really dancing and digging it. Airel, Bella and Ivy brought me a cake and sang me HB before the first song.

When the set ended, with special guests Simon Gadke on Sax and Matthew Bailey on cowbell, it as 11:30. We decided to go with our original plan and hit up the choogle. All musicians were invited to get up and solo. Weatherstone brought his sax! Milan Schraemeck brought harmonicas! I left the drum kit at the 10 minute mark and did a guitar solo. Guest players were: Duncan Davies, Sean Kennedy, Milan, Darryll, Carl Bray, Liam Morin, Ryan Spratt, Matthew Giffin. Nevin even got behind the drums.

At midnight the owner shut it down, not angrily, because we knew we had to. It was SO MUCH FUN! I hung around for a good hour afterwards, I left the drums stuff there to pick up the next day. JP from the Beer store showed up at 1 in the morning from his new job!

I took a taxi back to Ivy’s place and spent the night there. Probably the best birthday I’ve ever had.

Sunday, Feb 27

The Long Haul - Not My Dog

Toronto, Ontario

A long lazy day. Headed home from Mike’s house at three, only to come back at 8. There is another band playing and we still don’t know whether we’re first or second. at 8:30 Matt texts us to be there at 9:15. I get to Mike’s place to catch the end of a Chris Weatherstone band practice, hanging with Liam, Lenny and Nevin. A beer bottle is broken and we take our sweet time.

Once again we pick up JVT, but without drums. They’re with Bailey. I like Not My Dog, but I also dislike it. It’s cool to play a quiet show. We pull a triple amp stack and play one set. A nice end to the night. Ivy and Ariel show up and have fun. I leave pretty quickly and catch a ride to Kensington to Ronnie’s for Amy’s birthday. Cool ride with Chicken Grease, JVT, ecker and Lenny (who came along with Weatherstone to see the show).

An uneventful gig.

Saturday Feb 26th

The Long Haul - Mitzi’s Sister

Toronto, Ontario

A full day, banjo lesson with Gerrard at 10am, practive with BC and seeing the newly printed CDs from 12-2 and final CCRR digs in the afternoon.

I head over to Mike’s place around 8 o’clock. He took my amp last night. We hang out and play tunes, fretless bass and steel. He show me a new bluegrass tune he’s written that is rad. Things begin to take a shitty turn around 10:15.

Originally we were supposed to pick up JVT around 10 and bring him, with the drums to our set. But, unbeknownst to us, we are also providing the drums for the Montreal based Jerryriggers, the opening band for whom this show is a Toronto CD launch. Matt forgot this and also fell asleep until he was woken up by the band calling for their drums. So he had to go get them right away.

Mike and I amble down. We’re in good spirits. We pick up some new mixes for MELEE at Nathan Carter-Moore’s place.

We arrive to see Mitzi’s sound man Jeff (sp?) standing and smoking. Has the band finished?

“Well, the drums just arrived and they’re setting up.”

“We’re going to Old Man Pizza, We’re going to Old Man Pizza,” sings mike.

Drop the stuff off and hit up a slice. Spicy sauce on pepperoni. Back in the bar, I greet Eartha, the door lady and sit down to a good show by the Jerryriggers. The mood has been somewhat soured. Jeff is not happy as he has to get up early the next day. We now play one set. But it is a good one. I get to play through the Jerryrigger’s Ashborne amp, which is nice but means I didn’t have to bring my damn amp.

The set goes well. The bar is pretty full, but it’s mostly people there for the Jerryriggers. After the show I sit and chat at the bar with a bass player whose name escapes me unfortunately. I get recognised for being in Blood Ceremony. I feel really cool. I get a Tankhouse after loading the van and Mike approaches me.

“Chug.”

I do, 15 seconds, not bad. We drop JVT and listen to Mike’s mixes which are amazing and blow JVT away. Mike tells him that Lenny is the drummer.

“Is there perc on this?”

“Yeah, there’s three guys on it.”

“Oh my God, I thought, like I new Galen was good but this is insane!”

We head home, pick up Johnny and head for Chinese at Suatoo(sp?). Chinese and Angele in tow, we kick it back to the Eckert house where I decide I’m staying. We eat Chinese and watch the last half of interview with a vampire. A good night.

Friday, Feb 25

The Long Haul - The Press Club

Toronto, Ontario

I end up working an eight hour shift, which is sweet, but puts me in the unfortunate position of thinking that I will be late. I left my amp at The Press Club so all I have to bring to bring is my bass. I also have my banjo because Ivy wanted at the the practive (even though we didn’t use it!).

I get on the 26 Dupont bus and head to Dundas West station to take the streetcar down to Bathurst. I board the ctreetcar at 9:30 and am mortified that I am late. But, I am fooled when Kirty and Matt get on the streetcar with me. Looks like it’ll be a late show.

We get to the club and I head out to get Ali Baba’s, a nice beef shwarma! We have no opener  tonight, fine by me. The night gets underway around 10:30. The show is eventless. Mike Brushey shows up and kills it on the watching tip.

I go home in a cab. I am pretty bummed for some reason, about the show.

Thursday, Feb 24th

The Long Haul and Ivy Mairi – The Local

Toronto, Ontario

This is the kick-off of the Long Haul’s “Hole in the Wall” tour. Today is the day I find out that my gig with Jay Aymar that was supposed to happen on Saturday is not going down. Oh well, probably too much to do anyway.

I drive down by my lonesome with both of my basses as it’s Ivy and the Long Haul. I also decide to buck logic and bring my fretless bass. For one of the first time’s in my life, I’m the third person to the gig. I am, it’s fair to say, not happy about this gig. I dislike playing at the Local because the stage is small and poorly positioned. But, let’s be proffessional, I tell myself, just do it. It’s a massive juggling act with these basses in the tiny space available. I leave my amp outside for the opening set and the electric tucked away off stage. After our set with Ivy which turned out to be quit ecrowded, more than I’ve usually seen on a Tursday I tuck away my upright downstairs.

As the Long Haul sets up (JVT has arrived closer to stage time with Mike in the van) the place gets packed with people. Beer store people and otherwise. My manager Ralph is even there.

Chris “Computer” Jackson is there, too! It’s really awesome to see him!

Little went down at this show. Mike and I had to stand on the ground. Which is commonplace. We play well, and I’m always impressed at how well we hold it together despite little to no practice.

The gig ends, I pack up and go home. After the gig, I have to a lot of juggling with my gear. I drop my amp off at the Press Club and then my upright at the BC space because I will need it there for a rehearsal with Ivy the next day at 11.

That’s about it.

Wednesday, Feb 23

Vince Lombardi -Clinton’s

Toronto

This show was the beginning of a long week. It takes a lot to destroy music and then resurrect it, as you will see. I”ve been SO busy I’m jsut writing this on the Tuesday after this last show in a string of six.

I spent the early part of the day rehearsing with Ivy and our new drummer, Mike Brushey, a very seriously talented dude, but tonight is about Vince Lombardi! For the uninitiated, Vince Lombardi is at once the greatest coach in history and the greatest thing to happen to the rock opera since “A Quick one While He’s Away.” My great buddy and former Northern and Humber school mate, Ryan Spratt put together a story about love, football, drinking and the greatest Vidjah game ever made.

Ryan, about two months ago, asked me to be the narrator for this project. Preparation meant study of a script and attending several rehearsals to get the freaking laughs out.

Spratt picks me up from my house around 7h30 and we head down to Clinton’s listening to the rehearsal tape. We’re the first people there and we load in amps and costumes. Pretty soon drummer Josh Patrick and his girlfriend Danielle show up (she’s a singer). We make up the stage. Stage right I set up a blind spot for the place where I am to narrate unseen from. It also gives me a chance to change. Eventually everyone shows up. On the bill tonight is Oscar Tango, The People of Canada and Girl Drink Drunk. Oscar Tango is a local power trio and, well, we all know who the people of Canada is/are (Garbage day eve) while GGD is best described as “Stoner electro with two drummers,” the last time I saw them at Clinton’s, the ripped. Of course they do! It’s Galen, Chris Ryan and John and Mike Eckert.

After the preliminary set-up and with a sound check without Darryl (showing up late) we head off to the Korean restaurant on the corner there whose name escapes me. I know that Reuben calls in menu and they only serve nine things. Spratt, Mike, John, James Ervin and I sit down to a hearty meal of beef and kim-chi. I love Koreans.

Lenny shows up part way through the meal. He and Chris Ryan disappeared during sound check, they went to the central and Lenny is loaded! They were getting fed free drinks by a girl singer who wanted a drummer, Chicken Grease stayed behind to take the drum stool. Lenny sits down and orders two Hites, for himself. He is a champion.

We finish eating, pay and I head inside while the others break for green. I help Spratt wit the door for a while. It’s ladies’ night, so no cover for anyone with a vagina. Suzy Wilde, shows up before Oscar Tango start and has forgotten to bring my clothes. Oh well, she heads back to her mom’s house to get them. Slowly the place begins to become relatively full. John Eckert sr., Tobin Simpson, Johanna Mohammed, all the stars are out tonight.

I hold door until Suzy returns with my costume which I go and try on downstairs. I should jsut come out and say that at one point in the show I have to wear a dress. I’m trying the thing on in the bathroom and get seen by about four different guys. She’s brought to dresses, a low cut white one with polka dots and a kind of blue more modest dress. I go with the low cut one. It looks really good/weird/funny.

Oscar Tango finishes around 1030 and the People of Canada does a really, really short set. I have been charged with ensuring the door in the back is closed by the bartendress. We hit the stage hard for Vince Lombardi. I haven’t been this excited for a show in a while.

The show goes really well, I think, I stumble once on the narration, but all the jokes are done really well. The dress scene goes over really well. My Herzog impression is appreciated.

Afterwards we all pose fora photo.

Back Row L to R: Josh Patrick (Lance, drums), Ryan Spratt (Jimmy Banks, bass, mastermind), Darryl Poulsen (Guitar)
Front Row L to R: Suzy Wilde (Cheerleader), Barbara Johnston (Cheerleader), Mike Simpson (Bass, Coach Simpson), Lucas Gadke (Narrator)

The show killed. GGD kills it, too. I hang around until they finish and Mike takes me back to his place where we party the night away. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much except that Lenny and I fell asleep in the pool room listening The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull.


Friday, Feb 18

Ivy Mairi - Slash Bracket

Montreal, Quebec

This has been in the works for a while, Ivy calling a square dance in Montreal at her friends’ home/art space/loft/party place “Slash Bracket.” Long in the works but only set into motion about three weeks ago. Originally, it was to be myself, Matthew Bailey, Ivy and Frank Evans heading up, but due to the fact that Myself and Matt and were scheduled to play an afternoon wedding Orillia the next day, he had, um “contractual obligations” to be there at the rehearsal dinner. Having no contracts to speak of and having just received some great news from Rise Above Records counter acting the shitty news we’d received from Ghost a couple days before I decided to spend some of the money I had been saving. Also, Frank decided not to come out. That’s cool, gives me an extra seat, for my bass.

I pick Ivy up on Thursday about half an hour after I said I would because I couldn’t find my phone (in my bag) and I got stuck on the damn Gardiner. The last foray into Montreal (see January at Brutopia) I had intended to spend more time than necessary in big smoked meat, but did not get to. This time, I wasa gonna head up Thursday night, spend a good time at Dieu du Ciel! and then just amble through a day in Montreal.

The drive is good, but long, Ivy is a good talker and makes for a great driver companion. We constantly remark on how married we look. If we had a dog, it would seal the deal. We stop at a Fifth Wheel truckstop, with my little Pontiac. I get out and can’t figure out how to work the pump, it’s one of those old-fashioned ones where you have to flip a switch or some BS. I have to send Ivy in to ask them how to do it. We think to go full yuppy and ask them where the local “artisanal” smoked salmon shop is.

The drive, is a blur, but better than most drives to Montreal, we arrive and Ivy’s friend Dom’s place. He is a very nice and cool dude in the middle of mid-term hell. He also has a very nice roommate named Nora who I think looks like my friend Victoria, but to no avail with Ivy. I park on Esplanade and don’t worry about because it’s Montreal. My plan, because I will be leaving very early on Saturday morning is to go to the brew pub, which is right around the corner that night. Dom and Ivy follow along, although Dom has resolved to get up at 7 in the morning to study. We have nice conversation and I have a two Heffe-Weissen, one called Blanche Fevrier with ginger and mustard. It’s subtle but good, I also have an India weissen mix, which is very interesting, just a nice crisp Weissen that’s been hopped to death. The third was a cask that I can’t remember, damn!

From there, we left at around 12 30 for bed.

We woke up at around 10 and got up slowly. We showered and made out to go to Jean Talon, but first breakfast at a Brazillian place. The sting ofthe parking ticket I received (&*(&^%&^!!!!) was tempered by the fact that on my omlette they ran out of goat cheese so they loaded it up with blue cheese! We make for Jean Talon and decide to meet Charlotte Cornfield there. She’s just coming off finishing the tracking for her album. It’s good to see old friends. I buy 3 litre of cider and a cheese called the Ramacolan(??) which is good, I’m doing a terrible job of keeping a track of these things.

Charlotte wants to go for lunch so we meet up with mutual friend Georgia at a place called the Vieux Vélo. They eat and I find out that green tea and apple cider do not mix. After we leave them, we go to meet up with Matt James, a banjoist, flautist and friend of ours. He’s at a person named Alex’s place, we hang out and talk about brewing for a while and have a good time. Now it is back to Dom’s to get our stuff and make it over to Max Evans’ place for the square dance. Max lives in the south end of town in this huge loft that is really open concept minus the three roommates’ (Jackson and Simon) tiny self made rooms. We arrive at six as the sun sets and the moon rises. We make dinner, chat and wait for the rest of the musicians to show up to run some tunes.

Their apartment is very cool, big and well-decorated with a huge collection of records. I find out that they are all Rosedale kids by way of their orange kitten who is named Andrew Kobus, small world. Ivy makes a dinner of Fritada and brussell sprout bacon and salad. Matt shows up with banjo, which is awesome, but nothing compared to Max’s fretless banjo that’s tuned to a wicked D modal thing Dade I think. The party, like anything happening in Toronto aswell, starts late. This is my first inclination that this is more of a party and not some sort fun thing perpetrated by people interested in old time stuff. Glynis shows up and so does Kate Struthers.  There was supposed to be a birthday part that night that was rock start themed so a few people show up in costume.

Slowly a band emerges, we get Greg, a really cool fiddle player who also plays guitar, James, Max and a really cool girl named Anna from Nashville who works on the farm campus of one of the schools in Montreal. I do not drink much, just a bottle of dry cider which kills and two Old Milwaukee drys, which are almost intolerably sweet. Playing fiddle tunes, for me, is always hilarious because most fiddles players (except for Greg) don’t know the chords to their songs and it’s fairly open-ended as to what they could be. But we get through it.

The dancing doesn’t start until around 11, but the playing, at least my playing goes until 3 30 in the morning. There are, three dances,  I think. I don’t know, the whole night is blur of really fun cool fiddle tunes. I sing a couple songs but it’s mostly fiddling and such. I start to realize as four roll around that I have to leave for Orillia (because I was told to meet the guys at Kirty’s house at 12:30) in 2 hours. I also seem to have pulled a muscle in my right arm from too much slapping. I try to get some shut eye in a chair, but it ain’t doing. When the music officially stops around 4 20, Max offers to let me sleep in his bed. I try dfor 10 minutes, but the music and conversation still persists outside. I decide to man up and just leave and make for Orillia. We get some Maté and Earl Grey in me and I load up the car. I get recognised by a guy for being in Blood Ceremony and say my goodbyes. I hit the road at 5 in the morning, I am driving into the setting moon. The drive is kinda scary and lonely as Ivy is getting Rideshare. After three hours on the road I pull into the Onroute at Bainsville (I think) and try to grab a nap, I maintain consciousness, but get some rest for 45 minutes. Then I jsut motor my way to Thackson road near Oshawa. I roll into Orillia at 12:45 thanks to some real slow guys on the 12. As I should’ve assumed, Kirty and Matt aren’t even close to the church, I find it after some bad searching and wait their for about 45 minutes. The acoustics in the place are great.

The wedding goes well and we play great except for one capo mishap. We head back to Kirty’s place afterward, I eat some of her brothers’ smoked salmon and other things and then myself and Alyson McNamara head home. It’s a short drive and I drop her downtown. I pick up two hockley’s and a Christoffel at Summerhill and am too wired to sleep. I watch TV until 10, making it a straight 36 hours of wakefulness. I fall asleep on the couch and wake at 3 to go upstairs. It was a good trip.

Friday, Feb 11

The Rucksack Willies -Mitzi’s Sister

Toronto, Ontario

At times my days are empty and at times they are not, this day was not. I went and saw the Daft Punk Tribute Band play on Thursday night. It was superbly decent. I danced and sang and praised Crom for Mike Eckert’s guitar work. I spent the night at Angele and Sophia’s place as I stayed too late, hanging with a guy named Walter who gave me free drinks.

As I was heading to their place, I thought it was a good idea. It was only until I realized that I had a practice the next day and had to grab my bass from home that I knew how dumb I’d been. I set my alarm for 8 o’clock, left quickly, got home showered, changed, grabber the bass and flew out the door for my 4 hour 10 am shift at the Beer Store (eff that!).

I am hungover, but it’s not so bad, I can deal. I head for the practice, which takes forever, waiting on the buses. It’s with Ivy and our new drummer, Mike Brushey who plays with Bellwoods and a host of other bands. He’s really good and is willing to give me drum lessons. Score. Bailey has a new guitar, a hollow body Hoffner that sounds amazing. We’re practicing in Bruce Peninsula’s space, which, for some reason, my bass sounds great in.

The practice is short, but fun and Mike, Ivy and I work through some stuff after Matt leaves. After that, I head down to Queen with Ivy to practice drums. A solid two hours of playing in the space and it’s already 6 o’clock. I decide to give up on going home and head over to Mike Eckert’s place to drive down with them. Lenny is there, we hang. At the appointed time, we leave and pick up Liam Morin, a bass player friend and fellow brewmaster. We have made plans to not only praise Thor but do it by preparing a beer in his honour. We decide to meet on Monday to decide, buy 12 different types of beer and think of one to make.

The Slocan Ramblers are opening for us, a great four piece bluegrass band with Daryll Poulsen, Alastair Whitehead, Frank Evans and Adrian Gross. John WIlliams is there too and gets up to play harp with them and kills it. My old high school friend Alain is now working in the kitchen there, it’s good to see him and talk Danzig and doom again.

We hit the stage, after a gang trip to Old Man pizza and, well, I think we kill it. It’s really energetic, if a little loose and a couple of times Angie calls a song that Adrian doesn’t know, but the transitions are quicker than normal and we play a long set. At the end, after Take me Down, we do I shall be Released which I had vowed I would never do again, but I was forced into singing the 1st and 3rd verse because I know it. Resolution is to learn a new Dylan tune for that band, or maybe a Randy Newman tune, I think “Rollin’”.

Because I’m with Eckert, I’m taken away fairly quickly. Liam Cohl comes in the car with us as we go to pick up Angele. We head back to Mike’s place, Lenny, Angele, Mike and I. We hang for a while, talking, playing songs in the basement, drinking Liam’s latest cider which is pretty damn good.

I sleep at Mike’s in the guest bedroom, fairly well. In the morning I play a pokemon puzzle game and leave to meet Blood Ceremony to discuss our recently ruptured tour.

Saturday, Feb 5

Kirsten Scholte and The Fancys – Duffy’s

Toronto, Ontario

I got called into work last minute today. A nice three hour shift to cover the dinner shift for JP and Dana. That’ll do me good.

Justin booked this gig about a week and a half ago. It is for Nickstock, his buddy Nick’s birthday, both a singer and a guitar player (while we were waiting for the gig and people were showing up, someone actually remarked that you meet so many musicians and never learn their last name, just first name, basic description of appearance and the instrument they play). Nick’s birthday was a couple of days ago.

Tonight, is started snowing, bad and at first it looked like the only people that were going to be at the bar were those coming to see Spider something face Jesus something in the UFC octagon. I got to the gig at about 8 30 and hung out with John Williams and Justin who were setting up. I went to go get dinner at Ali Baba’s. Beef schwarma, good times.

This was actually a rather uneventful gig. I chatted with many of Justin’s friends from U of T about world music and other things (stretches, etc.) and then listened to Nick and John play a duo set. He had a really cool/weird some about surgery or something, very intense. He has a low gravelly voice and an accomplished clawhammer style.

Kirty and Mat show up/ They have my amp. I was in the bathroom and did not lift it. Score.

We set up, play and I don’t give my best performance, but it is well-received. Joe E. shows up near the end of the set. I haven’t seen him in a while and he now has a huge bear and myself only a little one. I am jealous.

I stick around for a bit of the Boxcar Boys but must make it home before the 11 stops running because I am no carrying my amp and it is heavy.

I get home at one. It’s an early night.

Wednesday, Feb 2

The Rucksack Willies – The Piston

Toronto, Ontario

I haven’t been working much. Part time work I mean, I got lots of music stuff, but my other job hasn’t been calling much. That’s ok, it’s just part-time. In light of this I spent all day at the rehearsal space, playing the drums, getting my CCRR stuff together. I went to Neurotica at one point and bought Uriah Heep’s Look at Yourself and a Moses Asch record of people reciting the Vedas, it’s pretty sweet.

Regardless, I have to go to Kirty’s place and rehearse for an upcoming wedding gig. Lots of songs about God. There’s a Gordon Lightfoot song that’s particularly bad and represents everything I hate about Christianity. But I’ll take about that later.

After a good rehearsal with Matt myself and Alyson McNamara I head upstairs and meet Justin Rutledge and have a brief chat with him. It’s a good walk with the bass to bus stop and it is cold out!

The Piston is my destination. It is a newish bar at Ossington and Bloor, right next to Long & McQuade (convenient for string breaks) that was once the Concorde Cafe. That place sucked! I played several gigs there, a few with the Willies, if I recall (see, this is why I’m doing this), one with The Friends of the Family (our ill-fated bluegrass jam band, side note, I have a recording of that show and I’m on banjo and at one point, being in a C tuning I play a G-tuning lick that works out to be a whole scale and sound quite Indian. There is an audible laugh from the audience.) and once with my band that was never really a band, The Pale Horse and His Rider. That was a two-piece formed after the dissolution of Drew Hawkins’ band with Phil Skot. We sang songs about zombies and bog monsters and we covered an early Pentagram tune.

I’m rambling as all these memories flow back. The Concorde used to suck but was a Humber hang as they would book anybody. It was cold and had no mics and a shitty stage and a bad sound system with a basically empty and sterile room in the back for bands to play.

What a shocker when I walked in the door! The entire place has been re-done with fancy booths and is now painted sleek black. The back room has a great stage and a good sound guy, Paul who also does sound at the Dakota. You enter through nice looking doors in the back and on your right is a made-up area for bands to put merch and forward and to the left gives you a place to put a door man next to a curtain. There is also a unisex bathroom next to the sound booth and a neat little bar for busier nights.

Angie and Megan as well as Danielle Bourgeois are there already with a couple of Angie’s friends from MEC, Eva (who is introduced as Evan) and Michelle. It’s a few minutes before Micke shows up with Galen (heretofore referred to as Leonard Bernstein). When he does arrive (well, he’d actually been there for 10 minutes, they were having a green break) he’s all business. Lenny’s in a good mood, jovial and laughing at all the joke, but Mike’s in a real in and out vibe. I imagine Angele is waiting for him somewhere.

After some problems with the bass (I need to get an active DI), the sound winds up being really good during sound check. Even the dobro is nice and loud. Lenny and I are both equipped with bad-ass cowboy shirts. Everyone is in a good mood.

The room is thinly populated and I’m not sure what to expect. Adrian arrives later from teaching. We decide to hold up for a couple of minutes and let the room fill up, which it begins to. After another green break for Mike, Megan and Lenny, we hit the stage.

All this time… The last time the Rucksacks played was in the summer in Kitchener Waterloo and the vibe was not great. This was right before Bailey would quit the band. But getting back into was so fun. I totally forgot how much fun that band is and how much we all get into it. Especially Angie. This is how we rolled, in classic fashion:

Waiting For a Sign
Beautiful Stranger
Higher
So Low
Midnight Ghost
Summer’s Over
The is Nothing You Can Take Away
Wagon Wheel (OCMS cover)
C’est La Vie (Chuck Berry cover)
Take Me Down

The first three songs are a serious work out. This whole band is a work out. Getting back into this will whip me into shape. One Two Three Four and it’s like we never left. Adrian is an awesome addition to the band. There are some flubs and some rustiness, but that’s bound to go down, regardless. During Summer’s over, the room starts to fill up with very hip looking people. Sweet, they all dig the tunes but don’t move. I busted a pretty good bass solo on Summer’s Over, if I do say so myself.

With a crushing blow we kill the night and leave the stage for Gramercy Riffs who have just moved here from London, I believe…

I head to the bar with Lenny after we load up Eckert’s car (roll up, do the gig, roll out!) to get some whiskey shots. The bar is over loaded with all the people there, the place has REALLY filled up! After waiting for about 15 minutes to get my drink, it turn out we can’t get shots with our drink tickets. So Lenny leaves and I order two 50s for myself and go watch the first few songs from Gramercy. I run into a guy named Jeff (sp?) who plays with Devon Cuddy. He wants to know if I might be interested in playing a few shows with them at the Cameron. I decide that I’m going to be straight up and tell him that I’m really busy and these days, will not pick up something new if it’s free.

Gramercy is good and tight. I head back to the bar to chat with Angie and her boyfriend Nick who happen to be two of my favourite people in the world. Lizzy Clarke has brought her dad and family friends and they head out. Lizzy looks so much like her dad it is insane. She’s planning on making a rehearsal space in there soon to be new apartment. It’s a sound idea. Sound proof idea… huh? Hello!

Nick and reminisce about the first time we met. And I embarrass Angie reminding her of when I told some very inappropriate stories about my past in front of her parents. After the Gramercy set, some girls come up to us and complain about nobody moving in the crowd. Welcome to Toronto ladies.

The night gets a little hazier from here after a couple of free 50s. Jane’s Party goes on and, while I’m standing with Ivy waiting for a drink, I happen to mention to Angie that a girl down the bar is very pretty. Angie tells me to hang back for one minute and then join. The she just goes over and just starts talking to this girl! About me!

I head over, and whaddaya know? It works, we’re talking laughing and eventually exchanging numbers! I couldn’t believe. Her name is Norah and she is quite lovely. We spend the rest of the night hanging out, probably until one or so. I decide to get a cab all the way home. I get a car and have to put it in the front seat. My cabby is not very talkative and I have to get out at the TD at Bayview and Millwood to get my money.

All in all, A good night. Tomorrow, more rehearsing with Vince Lombardi. Biggity Boosh!

<–January March–>