Posts Tagged ‘John Mellencamp’
Sunday, June 17th, 2012
We left Penticton shortly before the end of John’s set and started heading north: 1200kms through the mountains. We didn’t get much sleep, the road climbed and twisted for most of the night, by morning we were still in the mountains, still twisting, still following tumbling rivers and railroad tracks. It was a sixteen hour grind, but what an amazing journey. Along the way we saw three bears (that’s right…Momma, Poppa and Baby bear) eating dandelions in the ditch; we saw a mother moose and her calf running alongside the bus and another big daddy moose way down in a river valley, Chris spotted him during one of our scenic-vista rest stops. Ron, our bus driver, picked out a stop a little north of Prince George and told me to get out my rod and reel, this was the place to catch a fish, and so I did and so I did. After a few minutes I landed a nice sized Squaw fish (or Pikeminnow for the more PC minded). Pete helped me out as the fish decided to makes its last stand in the scrubby brush that lined the river. He waded in, up to his knees and pulled aside the brush so that I could make the acquaintance of the beast. Brothers, you got to love em. It’s not exactly the most beautiful fish in the book, but it put up a decent fight and, heck, landing any fish is always a thrill. After we got the requisite pictures we unhooked him, paid our respects, said our prayers and sent him on his way (the fish, not Pete).
When we finally arrived in Dawson Creek we were a little disappointed. Driving sixteen hours through beautiful mountain passes surrounded by wildlife and churling waters, one gets a certain expectation as to what the town will look like at the end of the journey. Expectations…how many times have we broken Jeff’s golden rule of touring…”No expectations”. Somehow the mountains crumbled, the waters dried up, the wildlife disappeared and what we were left with was a town sitting in the middle of a flat as freakin’ pancake plain. We couldn’t even find Mr Dawson’s creek. Perhaps we didn’t look hard enough, but we were too busy shopping at the Wal-Mart beside the hotel…irony oh irony…just another day-off on the road.
We spent showday on the bus, parked inside the loading dock of the arena, staring out at the rain. A very slow day. No satellite, no soccer or US Open. I was able to watch the Blue Jays on my laptop, bless you Rogers Cable Corporation. They mounted a furious comeback and defeated the Phillies in 10 innings. And just like that it was soundcheck and then it was dinner and then it was showtime. We turned up a little bit more tonight and shortened the set by one song so that we could let some of the music evolve without worrying about going over our allotted amount of time. We had a lot of fun and I think we played a pretty good set. The audience was very good to us. During John’s set I walked around the venue and hung out. The place had the feel of an enormous roadhouse. People milling about, drinking and talking, listening and letting go with the occasional war whoop. The place had a great feel…..”hold on to 16 as long as you can”….right on.
Friday, June 15th, 2012
We packed our bus last Friday and sent it West, then spent the last past few days with our families preparing to leave them as they recover from surgery, cram for finals and struggle to finish up end of year projects. We will be absent for that transition in to Summer vacation, that beautiful rush of freedom and energy. Yesterday we all flew in to Penticton from various points, catching snatches of the Euro Cup in various airport bars: Portugal coming alive, the Dutch sputtering. We arrived in Penticton at dinner time and ate at a water side restaurant with very average, very over-priced food but with an amazing view of Lake Okanagan and the mountains that ring it. It was worth the larceny. This is the start of a very long cross Canada tour as an opening act for John Mellencamp. Despite being Canadian we have done very few cross Canada tours and we have never played in about 80% of the towns and cities that we’ll be visiting. We are approaching it as a great adventure.
Today was a long day, especially for the crew, Jared and Chris had to load in and set up at 8am. The rest of us stumbled in to the venue at 10, occupied the stage for a couple of hours to get our monitors set and generally get comfortable and then we broke it all down. We appreciate the generosity of the Mellencamp-camp, letting us use some of their production time….it’s a true luxury. I took the opportunity of some free time between production rehearsal and soundcheck and grabbed my fishing rod, rented a kayak and tried to find a ledge in the lake that some local had told me about. I wasn’t out there for very long before a thunderstorm came racing down the valley and chased me back to shore. I plan to fish wherever I can this tour, especially in BC, where highways trace the paths of wild rivers.
Soundcheck today (as it will be everyday) was at 5pm, dinner at 6:30, showtime at 7:30, off by 8:15. I love a well run ship and this one looks to be in fine trim. A little know fact is that John Mellencamp’s music was a pretty big influence on the band and an influence that we probably haven’t acknowledged enough. When we were putting together the songs for Trinity Session, Mellencamp’s albums Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubillee were enormous hits. We listened to them a lot and his arrangements and use of fiddle and accordion was very inspiring, especially the way he used accordion. So we owe it to John for setting us off down a path that lead to Jaro and Jeff (who we initially contacted as a fiddle player). We are very happy to be along for this ride, it feels like another completed circle.
Considering that we hadn’t played together in several weeks, and we were on a strange stage, in a strange room, in a strange situation…I think our opening night rocked. My favourite part of Mellencamp’s set tonight was the audience sing-a-long, five thousand strong, during an acoustic performance of Jack and Dianne….”oh yaaaa, life goes aaaawwwaawwn, long after the thrill of livin’ is gawwwaawwn”….how great is that…..
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Summer is almost here….and we have a lot going on in the next few months:
Our Canadian Tour in support of John Mellencamp starts up in a little over a week and it will include some stops along the way where we will be playing our own shows (Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Parry Sound, Sherbrooke). We are also playing some shows with John in a couple of provinces where we have never performed (PEI and Newfoundland). In August we will be back on the road by ourselves in the North East of the USA. Check out the Tour Dates page for all the relevant info.
Amazon will continue to sell digital downloads of The Wilderness for $5 throughout the month of June (for USA customers only). Also, we continue to sell our five album box set of The Nomad Series for just $25.
The Nomad Series book is about to go to the printer, which means that we should have it in hand by mid-summer at the latest. We will be mailing it out to our Clubhouse Subscribers as soon as we get it, but in the meantime, if you are not a Clubhouse member, this is your final chance to join. We have extended the Clubhouse term to January 1, 2013. With the subscription you get all of the digital content on our website (many hundreds of recordings) as well as The Nomad Series book. The book is going to be quite special: it’s a 140 page full colour, coffee table art book, bound in a linen hard cover and it will contain cds of the four volumes of The Nomad Series. It is designed by our friend Enrique Martinez Celaya who also did the artwork for The Nomad Series. It will be a very limited edition and when they are gone, they are gone. So you can guarantee that you will receive a copy by joining The Clubhouse. You can check out all the details about The Clubhouse Subscription here.
The Tour Diary will be starting up again next week, so be sure to check back frequently to see how our adventure on the road are coming along.
In case you missed it the first time…here is a live performance on CBC Drive of me, Margo and Jeff performing Fairytale from The Wilderness, enjoy: