Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spences Bridge, BC, Sold Out at the Packing House

It's a great day to be alive. Sleep in a little bit. Get out, run for 10 or 15 km along this mighty river. Quiet out here today. Maybe it's always quiet. Last year Pickett and I played the Opera House here in Ashcroft, BC, and met lots of local folks— but it seems nobody is around this weekend. Too bad. I was hoping to catch up with my pal Leslie Alexander— a great singer-songwriter who makes this place her home. She's out on tour somewhere. Hope you are having a good one, Les. A quiet night and a quiet morning. That's alright. We'll pick it up later today. Here's the view from the hotel—

I guess the graduating high school classes have to climb the big hill and leave their mark every year. Last year I thought this looked kind of sloppy, but this time around I like the small town glory of it all. I'm a little envious of having roots like these kids have. You can always drive back and see your mark on your hill in your town. There's a sense of place here, up in the high desert.

Dave and I meet for brunch in the hotel restaurant/cafe. It's got new owner-operators since last year, and the food is now really good, and the service really friendly. They are probably glad to see us leave. We drink too much coffee and go crazy on the saddle chairs. Howdy, partner... where can I water my horse? Gimme another coffee, would ya? And make it a DOUBLE.

We hang around for a while, explore the town a little, and then head out. We've got less than an hour's drive to Spences Bridge, BC, so we take our time and stop to enjoy the landscape. As usual, I look for the little roads less travelled!

Our little Dodge Caravan is not as romantic as a Silver Eagle tour bus— but it costs a lot less to operate, and does the job really well for this self-contained, 2 man tour. Lots of glass, a great view. Plenty of access doors. And the stereo is not too bad. We like the individual heater controls for driver and passenger, and the stow-away rear seats are really neat. The truck holds all our guitars, PA gear, merch, and personal baggage very nicely indeed.

I take in another view while Big Dave updates his books. Book keeping is a major chore that touring artists must learn and practise! Big Dave is getting good at it.

There's a little frost on the puddles up here today. And there's the crossing towards Spences Bridge in the distance.

Alas, Spences Bridge itself— the actual bridge joining the two sides of the town— has been closed by the province. They couldn't find an engineer who would bet on whether or not it would continue to span the river. I hope they can come up with a compromise for foot traffic, or light traffic, as the closing severs the community.

We arrive at the Packing House in time for a late lunch. It's bigger than it looks, but for sure it is the smallest venue on the Century Blues Tour. Michael Pickett and I found the place by accident on the National Steel Tour, and we were won over by their sheer enthusiasm for music, food, and location. It's a great little community. They are excited about having Big Dave and I, and in return we are excited about doing a show here!

Owners Steve and Paulette welcome us in with coffee and pie. We set up and sound check around our lunch order! We learn that the show is sold out, and every seat in the house will be occupied. Later, we find we need to sit on stage between sets— there is no other space and every chair is reserved!

We have been provided with a home just a few minutes from the club, and we head over to it with plans of sleeping and relaxing until show time. It turns out to be quite a remarkable spot!

Above us the eagles whirl and call. Amazing. But the gig is coming up! Well rested, we suit up and head back to the Packing House. For sure, this is going to be a fun night! And it is!

Here's our Tour Jacket winner! Hey, the odds were pretty good here tonight. You can't win if you don't have a ticket! This gal has a farm tucked up in one of the nearby canyons.

This gent didn't like getting his picture taken! The next table had a genuine ethnomusicologist from the University of Chicago (she was a good sport about me taking potshots at ethnomusicologists). You never know who you will meet in the most out of the way places. In fact, few places are out of the way to those who occupy them— rather these places are central to their lives. I'm the one from the "out of the way" place! I wish there was a little cafe like the Packing House where I live.

Steve is full of jokes and energy, and he rushes about from one job to the next. The customers love him, and he has a great time making them feel at home in the Packing House. In his role as bartender he encourages us on the stage. Another glass of red wine, please!

A great time is had by all. We autograph cds, posters, jackets, and these amazing house guitars before making our way out into the night. Back at the house it is dark, the stars are rich overhead, and the river is roaring in the distance. Sleep comes easily. Thanks everyone at Spences Bridge for making us feel so welcome. Dave and I wish everyone here every success, and hope that we will be able to visit again.

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