Notes from the Road, Volume 3:
Notes from the Road is Music Canada’s artist tour diary. Canadian
artists on tour around the world will share their stories of fans, gigs
and the “good, bad and the ugly” of touring!
As we rolled into Calgary I sent my brother a text message. He had offered to take some photos of us the next time we were in town so I thought I'd take him up on it. My brother moved to Calgary about 10 years ago. Fortunately, I'm on the road so much that I get to see him a few times a year. The majority of my Mom's side of the family ended up moving to Calgary over the years so in a way playing here is like playing a home town show for me. My brother is a chemical engineer by day but over the past couple of years has taken up photography as a hobby and has become quite good at it. He came over to our hotel with all his gear and set up in one of our rooms to take some shots. We took a bunch shots and after a Pilsner or two we all headed out to get sushi at a place that my brother recommended. We started reminiscing about the last time we played Calgary at this very venue, the power went out for a few hours at the beginning of the night so the opener had to play completely acoustic in front of the stage and we started our set that way until the power came back on. It made for an interesting show that's for sure. Hopefully tonight the power would not be an issue. As we took the stage the room was packed! I could see off in the distance a bunch of my family all sitting together, which for some reason always makes me a little nervous. I was quickly relaxed by the group of people in front of the stage who were dancing and singing along to our first few songs.
The show went amazingly well. We had a great crowd of fans there, I got to see my family and the power stayed on the entire night.
After a late night in Calgary we had to get up early for a long drive to Nelson, BC. We were playing the Royal that night. We've toured across Canada so many times now that we've become pretty confident about directions, so much so that we no longer travel with a GPS or maps. We make our own way across the country and through every city. It's our way of keeping it a little interesting. I mean most of time there is really only one option, the Trans Canada but getting to Nelson from Calgary involves a bit more than that (not much more mind you). Today we headed south to highway 3, the Crowsnest Pass. I kinda like how everything in Alberta is a "pass" or a "trail," such as Deerfoot Trail, etc. Everything in Ontario is just 4-0 something. We drove past the Frank Slide, which is the largest rock slide in Canadian history. We had a quick stop in the town of Creston, BC, which was the scene of a trailer breakdown for us a few years ago. I was sitting in the back of the van thinking to myself how well we know these routes and how familiar the roads are because we had driven them so many times over the years when Francois, a couple of benches up, said "Uh, I don't think we're on the right road." We were supposed to be on the 3 until we get to the 6 which is where we would head north but instead we were on the 3A. Not the end of the world but it does take us at least and hour and a half out of the way. The cool thing about it was that we had never gone this way before and it's an incredibly beautiful drive. The road takes you right up along the east side of Kootenay Lake. We ended up in a small town where we had to take a ferry back across the lake and then drive south to Nelson. Apparently, it's the longest free ferry in North America.
When we got to the Royal we found out that the show was sold out! That was exciting news, of course. It was also Saturday, October 29th so it was the big Halloween party night. It was looking like the night was gonna be a lot of fun! I have to say I've seen a few Burt Renolds costumes in my day but none like this guy in Nelson. There was also a guy dressed up as Optimus Prime from the old Transformer cartoons. That was one of the bulkiest get ups I have ever seen. I made a mental note that if I was going to a sold out show on Halloween that I would not dress as Optimus Prime. The show was insane! The whole room was dancing and having a great time. Afterwards, we headed to another party a few blocks away with some people who had been at the show. We had the next 2 days off so ourselves and the Hooded Fang peeps decided it was time to celebrate.
We had the last couple of days off, which we spent taking it easy and hanging out in Victoria. It's rare that we get to spend more than half a day in any one place at a time. To be honest, it's kinda weird. I prefer when we keep moving. It is called touring, after all. There is a big difference between touring and travelling. I've sort of realized that touring has reined me as a traveller because I just instinctively need to keep being on the move. I don't like being in the same place for more than a day (unless that place is my home) However, I did find our time in Victoria really great. The weather was amazing! Although, a few local people I spoke to were complaining that it was cold. We were staying downtown at the Strathcona hotel. In the basement of the Hotel is a large club called Legends, which is where we opened for Sloan some years ago. On Halloween night a few of us went out and awkwardly stood in a bar. I say awkwardly because we were the only three people in the place that weren't in costume. There was a cool cover band playing. They mostly played top 40 songs from the 90's.
Anyway, on the morning of the show we (the four of us that love coffee) found a great coffee place called Habit, which as I previously mentioned is always a highlight for us. That night we played the Lucky Bar. We had played there a few times before. As always it was a great show.
As we headed toward the ferry from Victoria heading back to Vancouver I always get a sense of "relief" (for lack of a better word.) It's a good feeling to have just travelled, pretty much, as far west from home as we could and now we're just touring home. Even though we're still thousands of kilometres from home, none of the drives feel quite as long once we've started that trek back east. One last thing about those ferries is they used to have these massage chairs facing out a window of the ship and now they're gone! BC Ferries, what gives? They also have a small arcade on each ship but I have yet to see a single Big Buck Hunter game in all my ten years of taking that ferry.
Anyway, that night we were playing The Electric Owl. It's a pretty new club that has a really great restaurant in it as well. It was our first time playing there. When the show started I grabbed a beer and went out into the crowd to watch Hooded Fang. I walked to stage right and standing there was my old friend Stefan's Dad. I couldn't believe it. I went up to him and said "what are doing here?" to which he replied "nice to see you too!" Of course I didn't mean it like that and we had a good laugh. He then said that we went to get some milk and took a wrong turn at Simcoe Rd. in Oshawa and ended up in Vancouver. Classic Dad joke if I ever heard one. Turns out that his wife was in town for a conference and he tagged along, saw that we were playing and came down to the show. It was really great to see him again. I think that every tour we have ever done a I run into someone from Oshawa. The show that night was a big success even though it was raining. I say that, because of course it was raining. By my count, I've been to Vancouver 16 times and it's rained about 12 of those times, so it was no surprise that it was a soggy night. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed when it isn't raining when we go there because it's become such a part of the experience of Vancouver for me.
That night after the show we drove to Hope, BC., which, for those of you who don't know, is where they shot the first Rambo movie called "First Blood". We had the next day off but we had to get to Edmonton by the evening of the 3rd because we were performing on Breakfast Television on the morning of the 4th so we wanted to get a head start on the drive.
Have you ever been to Hinton, Alberta? Neither had we. but that's where we got stuck in a snow storm.
The drive that day was going very well. We stopped in a small town for dinner and by the time we were done, it had started to snow. The further we headed along the Yellow Head Highway, the worse it got. We kept pressing on. As the sun started to set, the snow became more intense. By this point, we were in the foothills about 3 hours from Edmonton. We have gotten caught in these type of storms before so I knew that we just had to drive out of the foothills and chances are the snow would stop. I kept telling the guys that we should take our time and keep moving forward. We never like missing a gig or having to cancel anything that we have booked. The visibility was about 10 meters in any direction and we were driving about 20-30km/hr. The way the snow was coming at the van, it sort of looked like when a space ship travels through light speed on Star Wars (ok, I know that's a nerdy comparison but it's an apt description and I love anytime I get to reference Star Wars.) Francois was driving and his knuckles were as white as the snow shinning in the headlights. He started to suggest that maybe we should pull over. That wasn't a bad idea, but where? We were nowhere. Somewhere between Jasper and Edmonton. We started noticing some cars in the ditch. I was thinking to myself how glad I was that I had the snow tires put on before we left, so at least we had that in our favour. We noticed some lights up ahead and realized it was a small town we made the decision to pull over for the night, which meant that we would not be able to make the TV appearance. On the upside, the hotel we stayed at had a pool and a giant water slide. I have never seen 6 dudes in their late 20's/early 30's get so excited over a pool and water slide before but it was certainly a great way to unwind.
We woke to news that our show in Edmonton was already sold out. That was a great feeling, especially considering that we had missed the TV show. About 50km into the drive to Edmonton there wasn't even a snow flake to be found on the ground which I knew would be the case. The weather out west can be so strange. One day it's 12 degrees and sunny and 8 hours later there's a blizzard or sometimes Calgary will have a snow storm but a half hour north there will be nothing. Needless to say, the entire drive to Edmonton was smooth sailing. We had reserved some rooms at a Howard Johnson. That's a hotel chain we don't often frequent but it's usually okay. We chose it because it was really close to the venue and the rate was really cheap… how bad could it be? Well this particular HOJO was pretty rough. Half empty shampoo bottles in the rooms. A lot of the walls through out were all patch up and not because they were renovating but because someone had punched a hole in the wall or something like that. It sort of looked like the type of place that people lived in or only spent a couple of hours in if you know what I mean. We checked in anyway and decided there wasn't enough time to look into another hotel. With our room keys came a $10 coupon for the Chinese restaurant that was attached to the hotel. I'm pretty sure none of us cashed in on that.
The show that night went amazingly well. We met a lot of great people that night and because we were in no hurry to get back to our hotel we decided to hit up a party that we had been invited to. I have found that in the past, whenever we go to a party like this, after a show, they can be a little lame BUT on this night it was not lame at all. It was an apartment filled with cool people, good tunes and a lot of dancing and beer to be had. It was a great way to end the night!
The next stop for us was Amigo's in Saskatoon. Amigo's is an awesome Mexican restaurant. There are two great perks to playing there. 1. Because it's a restaurant they don't want you to load in until about 8 or 9 which means you don't need to get up early in order to get there in time for an early load in and sound check. That was a bonus on this day because of the late night we just had. 2. It's an awesome Mexican restaurant so we all get a great meal! It's always something we look forward to the entire drive there. We always have a great time in Saskatoon. It's an awesome music town. The only down side to ending a tour there is that it leaves a very long 2.5 day drive home. When we hit the stage we were playing to a capacity crowd. It was a great way to end the western leg of our tour! By the way, for dinner I had the tacos. It's always a toss up between their tacos and their burritos. I have to say the Amigo's has been a favourite tour stop of ours ever since we first played there opening for the Sadies. As we were loading out at the end of the night it started to snow. It wasn't too heavy, so we weren't to concerned about it. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that in the crowd that night, right up close to the stage was Steve Podborski! If you don't know who that is he is one of the most successful Canadian downhill skiers of all time. He is involved with a lot of fundraising for current Canadian Olympic athletes. He happened to be in town for one of those events and decided to come down to the show. He brought three other Olympians with him. We chatted after the show and it turns out that he's a fan! We all thought that was pretty cool. We don't have many famous fans… at least not that we know of.
Wayne Petti is one quarter of Cuff The Duke, playing Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Piano and Lead Vocals. Cuff The Duke just released their latest album, Morning Comes, on Paper Bag Records. The band is currently touring Canada with Hooded Fang.
Cuff The Duke on Tour:
SAT OCT 1 Vankleek Hill, ON Vankleek Hill Fair
TUE OCT 4 Toronto, ON Harry Rosen, 7:30 pm
THU OCT 6 Toronto, ON Soundscapes, 7 pm
WED OCT 19 Sault Ste. Marie, ON Loplop Lounge+
THU OCT 20 Thunder Bay, ON Crocks+
FRI OCT 21 Winnipeg, MB Park Theatre+
SAT OCT 22 Regina, SK The Exchange+
TUE OCT 25 Black Diamond, AB The Stop Coffee House
WED OCT 26 Lethbridge, AB The Slice+
THU OCT 27 Canmore, AB Communitea Cafe+
FRI OCT 28 Calgary, AB Dicken’s Pub+
SAT OCT 29 Nelson, BC The Royal+
TUE NOV 1 Victoria, BC Lucky Bar+
WED NOV 2 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl+
FRI NOV 4 Edmonton, AB The Haven Social Club+
SAT NOV 5 Saskatoon, SK Amigo’s+
WED NOV 9 Hamilton, ON Casbah+
THU NOV 10 Barrie, ON The Mansion+
FRI NOV 11 London, ON Call the Office+
SAT NOV 12 Ottawa, ON Maverick's+
SUN NOV 13 Guelph, ON eBar+
WED NOV 16 Waterloo, ON The Starlight+
THU NOV 17 Peterborough, ON Red Dog+
FRI NOV 18 Kingston, ON Grad Club+
SAT NOV 19 Kingston, ON Grad Club+
FRI NOV 25 Toronto, ON The Horseshoe
SAT NOV 26 Toronto, ON The Horseshoe
+ with Hooded Fang
Cuff the Duke is: Wayne Petti (Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitars), Paul Lowman (Bass, Vocals), Francois Turenne (Guitar, Pedal Steel) and A.J. Johnson (Drums).
Music Canada Editor: Have you seen any of Cuff the Duke's shows this tour?