Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Road to Banff, AB and Wild Bill's

There's usually at least one true dog day on a Tour like this one. This is that day. I've known about it for months, I've watched it come rolling up through the Tour Book, I've planned for it. But now it's here. We're leaving Quesnel, BC to drive to Banff, AB, where we are going to play an EARLY show. Last night we played Prince George, BC, and after the show we drove down here to Quesnel, hoping to get a jump on the day. Unfortunately, there was a blinding snowstorm along the way, and it was a dangerous few hours of white knuckle driving to get here in the small hours of the morning. Then I discovered I'd been Google-suckered in the routing. It would of been MUCH faster to stay in Prince George and head out through Jasper. I usually catch these things early on, and I suppose I was just being too smart keeping our rooms at the Casino for an extra night. As it is, we are up and in the truck before 6:AM, hoping for better weather as we race for 100 Mile House, Kamloops, Golden, Banff. We search through the darkness and, remarkably, find a Tim's on the outskirts of town. A couple of quarts of black coffee— no, Dave is having some kinda Irish fantasy coffee or something today— OK, and a bunch of bagels, and we're rocking.

It's been better than we might of hoped for as it gets light and we roar down the road toward 100 Mile House.

The RCMP guy was nice and gave me a break on the ticket. Still, it's $290 out of my pocket, so I'm really making squat on the day with it's 14 hours of driving, plus load in, load out and show. I've stayed within the limit for thousands of km, but I know what average speed I need to maintain to make the gig tonight. Crap. No, didn't take his picture...

OK, this is good, we've crossed a time line and still made it to the venue in time for soundcheck. I'm beat. I order food and cold beer as we work with the sound tech. The PA is huge. Really. They can give us five different monitor mixes, are trying to give us three, although we only want one mono mix...

We eventually get it all up and ready. Sometimes simple is really difficult. The sound guy knows his system, but has little experience with an acoustic show. We'll end up turning the monitors off altogether during the first set— after that we'll make out really well. Quick trip to the hotel to suit up and it's show time!

Wild Bill's is a pretty good sized venue— made for big crowds in this tourist destination. Tonight they have moved tables and chairs out into the dance floor area to create "concert seating" for the event. This is something we've been doing more and more often in the bigger blues venues— and it really works. A dinner and show ticket, and put people right up front. We started doing this at the Silver Dollar, in Toronto, a few years ago. It's a great way to bring an acoustic blues show into a premier blues venue which normally presents bands. It works well at Wild Bills, too. Plus they have great food and a really friendly and helpful staff.

We're not sold out here on this in-between-season Monday night, but it's not bad— it seems like there are people at every table in this big room, and they are with us. Dave and I have both had fans come out to this one, and it's very nice to chat and sign a few CDs. The owner/promoter, Swanee, sits in on harp with us for a few numbers. He's actually pretty good, and we have fun trading licks. Where's that Tour camera? Perhaps we are just too tired to use it? Or did we forget, again, in the heat of the action?

We did get a shot of the lucky tour jacket winner! At the end of the night my pal Rusty brings me an ice cream cookie thing, which seems to be a fine way to close out this long day. Thanks!

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