From 1971 to 2011 - 40 Years a Music Guy
AUGUST 29, 2011 - INTRODUCTION
It's hard to believe that it's been forty years since I left Dawson Creek for the big city lights of Vancouver. True, though. Four decades ago, in the summer of '71, I was the new kid in town, fresh out of high-school, playing gigs at People's Park, the Gastown Saloon and Gassy Jacks; meeting and sitting in with legendary Vancouver bands like Spring, Skylark, Fireweed and the Seeds Of Time; opening for Rita Coolidge at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre; touring with Chilliwack, John Lee Hooker, etc. And, I was writing like a mad fiend - at least a song a day, sometimes more. You do that when you're eighteen.
These fall of 2011 40th anniversary concerts won't be overly fancy. We'll have a few crinkly old posters up in the lobby, maybe a couple of photos. The emphasis will be on the music. I'll be performing as I did at those shows forty years ago - just me and my Gurian guitar (which, by the way, hits the forty year mark this coming January).
The sets will be loosely chronological, moving from then to now. Along with the 'usual suspects', I'll fit in a couple of tunes from 'way back that never did get recorded, as well as a few that I rarely perform live. Plus, there are stories to tell.
Shows in the 40th Anniversary Series
September 9 and 10: North Vancouver, BC. Deep Cove Shaw Theatre
October 8: Penticton, B.C. Dream Cafe
October 15: Parksville, BC
October17: Salt Spring Island Folk Club
October 21: Prince George, B.C. Artspace
October 22: Quesnel, B.C. Elks Hall
November 5: Surrey, B.C. Surrey Arts Centre
SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 - DEEP COVE
Hey everybody. The Deep Cove shows were great! Thanks to everyone who showed up and packed the place both nights. The poster display in the lobby was quite something, spanning the years from the days of the Crystal Ship in the late sixties to right now, in 2011. As promised, the shows were loosely chronological. It was tough putting the two sets together and I’m sure the show will continue to evolve as this little ‘tour’ progresses.
My pal, Dave Mazaros, brought his mobile recording unit to the First Impressions Theatre in Deep Cove and did a fine job of capturing the songs and stories ‘on tape’. We’ll see where that leads.
OCTOBER 3, 2011 - COQUITLAM
Hey all. The October 1st show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam was a good ‘un. Many long time fans and a few new converts came out to check out forty years worth of tunes. Lots of great chat at the CD table after the show. Thanks for that, folks. I treasure the stories.
Everyone is enjoying the display of vintage Bim and RF posters we’ve been setting up in the lobbies of the various venues. I was happy to sign an original vinyl copy of the 1976 Bim LP ‘Raincheck On Misery’ for a long time listener. Keep that Bim vinyl coming! Eight-tracks too!
Dave Mazaros was on hand once again with his mobile recording unit to capture the songs and stories ‘on tape’. As I said before, we’ll see where that leads.
OCTOBER 12, 2011 - PENTICTON
Greetings. The October 8th Dream Café show was a treat! Penticton is very lucky to have such a way-cool place for live music. The food is delicious, desserts are heaven-sent and the audience - whew! They sang, they clapped, they laughed and maybe cried a bit too. There were times when I could hear a pin drop. Thanks to everyone who came out to make this a memorable show for me. A couple of old Dawson Creek pals showed their faces, we shared a few high-school stories, going back more than forty years.
PS. I’ve just returned from the CBC Vancouver building where I spent some time chatting with Sheryl MacKay, the much-loved host of North By Northwest, heard every Saturday and Sunday morning, all over British Columbia, on CBC Radio One. The chat will run on Saturday morning, Oct 15th, starting around 8:20 AM. You’ll also hear a couple of live cuts from my September shows in Deep Cove.
OCTOBER 16, 2011 - LADYSMITH
The Errington Hall show was sold out and very lively. Rod, the sound guy, did a fine job, turning the hall into a ‘big guitar’, catching every nuance of my trusty Gurian. Denise, the master cook, whipped up a killer batch of borscht for an excellent before-show snack. More great talk at the CD table at the end of the night. As I wrote earlier in this section, I treasure the memories that all of you are sharing with me of shows from years back to shows from just a year or two ago. I was happy to sign three ‘Bim’ LPs last night. Love that vinyl! And, yes, I can still whip out that Bim autograph as I did in days of 8-track old.
Tuesday, a quick trip to Edmonton for a special two-hour ‘live’ edition of Roy’s Record Room on CKUA, a part of their fall fundraising campaign. Lark Clark and I are on from six to eight PM, Mountain Time. Call 1-800-494-2582 or pledge online at www.ckua.com.
Finally, a special thanks to Sheryl MacKay of CBC’s North By Northwest for having me on her show on October 15th. You can hear Saturday's show if you missed it. Just go to the NXNW site, and you can subscribe to podcasts of the show using RSS or iTunes. There's links in the right hand column near the top.
OCTOBER 19, 2011 - SALTSPRING ISLAND
How-do everybody. Monday night at the Salt Spring Island Folk Club was a complete blast, from start so finish. I now call the Salt Spring Folk Club ‘the folk club to end all folk clubs’. An incredible army of volunteers came together to make one of the more special evenings I’ve had on stage in quite some time. From the excellent sound (thanks, Valdy!) to the superb food to an audience who had the best sense of groove of any audience I’ve encountered in many a moon – all of these parts make for one helluva folk club, now in its fifteenth season, and a highlight of the 40th anniversary tour.
The event was captured on video by a four-person camera crew and was streamed live on the web for a small audience. All went well and if we can get access to the files, we’ll post a link here so you can have a look for yourself.
Tuesday, Lydia and I caught the early ferry from Salt Spring to Vancouver where I then caught a plane to Edmonton, landing just in time to get to the CKUA studios for that special two-hour LIVE Roy’s Record Room show I mentioned below. All went well. Lark Clark and I raised a bit of cash and had a lot of fun.
OCTOBER 22, 2011 - QUESNEL
The Saturday night show unfolded at Quesnel’s historic Elk’s Hall, whose walls were adorned with the vintage Bim/RF poster display that my partner Lydia has been putting up at every stop on this tour.
This night was special to me. Our old Pouce Coupe pal Wendy Hanrahan (now living in Quesnel) promoted the Quesnel show and did a superb job of getting the word out. Her sister Marie was a big help as well. Lydia, Wendy and Marie were often the ‘ticket takers’ at The Crystal Ship dances in Dawson Creek ‘way back in the late sixties – it was fun to see the ‘Pouce gals’ together again at the Elk’s Hall ticket table on Saturday. As well, my old friend Ed Hanrahan (who played bass in The Crystal Ship), was on hand, helping Mike with the excellent sound.
These little old halls often have various cubbyholes with big padlocks on them, keeping out curious renters. The portable stage must have been locked away in one of those cubbyholes as it was nowhere to be seen when the gang went to the hall Saturday afternoon to set up the chairs. Wendy’s husband, Ken Coombs, took charge of this small crisis, heading to one of the local lumberyards, throwing proper-sized sheets of plywood and boards into the back of his pickup, and then hammering together an eight-by-eight stage, in record time! Thanks for that, Kenny.
The show itself was great fun with a boisterous Quesnel crowd singing, clapping, and making a nice appreciative racket between the tunes. Judging from the response to ‘Fly Back North’ and ‘Crazy ‘Bout Lovin’ Me’, they love the blues in Quesnel!
Thanks to Wendy and everyone else who pitched in to make this Quesnel show another memory-making stop on the 40th anniversary tour.
OCTOBER 25, 2011 - PRINCE GEORGE
As usual, a great show at the Artspace. Jim Brinkman and his gang have a very cool thing going on in that city – I’m talkin’ ‘bout the Books And Company complex.
The joint was packed with long-time Bim/Roy fans along with a few new RF converts. I put ‘Fly Back North’ on the setlist for these two northern dates and the PG crowd showed its appreciation by lustily singing along, un-coerced! There was also some heart felt crowd-singing on ‘Saskatoon Moon’ and ‘Lifting My Heart’.
As always, a few old high-school pals showed up, including Audrey (Bumstead), who gave my first band, The Crystal Ship, its first full-length gig at Dawson Creek’s Frank Ross Junior Secondary School back in May of 1968. Thanks for the good stories and memories, Audrey.
As I said at the end of my second set – ‘from the Back Door Coffee House in 1974 to the Artspace in 2011, thanks to you Prince George fans for many years of memorable shows’. And, thanks to Jim Brinkman for keeping things going in PG. I look forward to my next Artspace return.
NOVEMBER 5, 2011 - SURREY
Had another fun show on Saturday at the Surrey Arts Centre. A fine crowd came out, filling every seat (and then some). ‘Fly Back North’ was, once again, a highlight. The singing on ‘Saskatoon Moon’ and ‘Lifting My Heart’ was nice and strong.
Russ, who was at the Deep Cove shows in September, was back on the sound board, doing his usual excellent job. Dave Meszaro’s assistant, Rylan, was on hand to record the proceedings. Jeesh! Now I have to listen to all of these shows to see if there’s a live record!
All along this tour, all kinds of folks from my past have been showing up. Saturday was no exception. I said ‘hey’ to Alison and Noreen from high school days. Pam McTavish was in my grade three class! The highlight, though, was seeing Paul and Leo Regnier and Ray Jeannotte, who were in a sixties Dawson Creek band called The Nighthawks – a huge inspiration to me in grades seven, eight and nine. I’d be at the high school dances, staring up at those guys on the stage, wanting to do what they were doing! It was kind of emotional, meeting them again, after all these years. We had a big ol’ yak, talking about the current whereabouts of old guitars and such. Typical musician talk. A couple of pictures were snapped and I’ll post one here when time permits. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the band’s page on the excellent and informative Pacific Northwest Bands website.
Thanks to the totally helpful staff at the Surrey Arts Centre for taking such good care of Lydia and I.