Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I’m 16 Again, and Looking for Gas Money

How did that happen? I ran out with a $20 in my hand. Went to the printers to make them re-print something I should have checked before I left the place.

Then as I was driving towards Timmy’s to get our daily iced cap fix, the dummy-fill-your-tank light comes on in my car. Okay, one more stop to make. Gas right next door to Timmy’s, so we’re good.

I pull up to the pump and get out, grabbing my wallet to use my debit card. . . crap – where is it? Can’t find it. Okay – will use credit card instead. WHERE IS IT?


I have no money, except the money for iced caps and lunch (need groceries, too.)

So I pull out of the gas station and sit there for a minute – what to do? Iced caps or gas to get home?

I decide to get the drinks and use 10 bucks for gas. That leaves a couple of bucks left over for value meal lunches.

So I scrape as much change as possible for the gas attendant and manage to give her 10 bucks without touching the other money. I am so proud that we can still have lunch (pathetic, I know) when I dump the 10 bucks on her counter and tell her  that I’ll take 10 bucks on #2.

I go out and pump but it doesn’t stop at $10 – I notice this at $13.46


So I dig for more change and have the attendant help me count it out.

And I made it. And got our frosty iced caps and lunch. Wahoo! What an accomplishment, right?

But still – I felt 16 again when scraping for gas money to get anywhere with the pals that had the wheels.

All because I left my cards at home. Sheesh.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A Love Affair with My Hammock

Yes, today. Yes, for more than an hour. I had a stupid’s night sleep last night, and it hit me at 4:00 p.m. today.  Peter was leaving for what? Soccer (Gasp! Shocking, I know.)!

So I went full-throttle. Grabbed the Zune (yes, I am the ONE person who owns one), a quilt and a pillow and headed for the yard.

Yes, it’s absolutely WRONG that I am using the word ‘quilt’ in August, but I was really trying to protect myself from the bugs that enjoy sucking my blood.

The I remembered – it’s dragonfly season – which means mosquito season is on a significant decline. This small revelation, along with the fact that I was looking at my roped target as it practically glowed in a warm patch of sunlight.  Definitely no bugs. Not even a deer fly

And the next thing I knew Peter came to kiss me before he left and gave me a push.

When I woke up it was an hour later and there was a mosquito on my forehead.

And that’s where the love affair ended.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Riverside Jam Tales 2009

There is so much that happens at Riverside Jam, it’s nigh on impossible to condense the weekend into one short article.

Do I start with Freddy Dixon trying to convince me he was Johnny Cash? Or dealing with the fact that I had been given a green light to interview Doc Walker once they’d finished signing autographs? What about how easy it is to make our wonderful Bowes brothers laugh? Or do I tell you how long I held my breath and waited for Terri Clark to give me just one minute of her time?

I met with Freddy Dixon and The Straight 8 Showband on Saturday afternoon. If I didn’t know better, I’d never have guessed that Freddy Dixon was an Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame Member and Entertainer of the Year 2000. Nope. What I received when I shook his hand was a draw into a hug with a “Hello darlin’, I’m Johnny Cash.”

I couldn’t help but tease him (by reminding him how healthy he looked for a deceased person) although I know Dixon is very well known and loved for his portrayal of the Man in Black. It really is uncanny to watch him on stage as he sinks into a Johnny Cash tune.

Speaking with any of the Straight 8 band members gets nowhere near a straight answer. Freddy and the Straight 8’s know how to laugh and tease one another (and one confused writer!). All that camaraderie and laughter among the band’s members turns into one entertaining performance. Knowing how much fun they are having makes you want to be up on stage with them. Dixon and the Straight 8 are definitely a good time with their rockabilly country and blues.

Saturday night, watching Doc Walker was nothing but a build-up of excitement knowing I would be able to ask them a few questions so we could all get inside their minds a little bit.

As I waited for the ‘go’ signal, Doc Walker’s road manager Kevin answered a text on his cell phone, looking a little frantic. He had just received word that the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta stage had collapsed from a deadly strong wind storm. He waited until we were all in the designated Doc Walker dressing room (a room inside Carleton Place High School) to deliver the news to the band. The mood changed for a moment as the realization struck. Chris, Murray and Dave were scheduled to perform on that stage the night after their Carleton Place performance.

Chris asked Kevin if they were still traveling to Camrose the next day. “No man, I’m changing the flights in the morning and we’re going home.”

We were silent for a moment. Chris gave me a smile and I plunged ahead. “So what’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while on the road?”

They looked as if there was no way they could choose just one thing. But Chris’ eyes twinkled as he told this story: “We were on tour with Dierks Bentley and were performing Renegade by Styx. We didn’t know it, but Bentley and his band had gone out and purchased 80’s glam-rocker costumes and wigs and plastic guitars. They came out on stage while we were performing and started messing with us by banging cowbells (off-beat) in our ears, shaking their rocker hair everywhere and smashing their plastic guitars all over the stage. That was the best practical joke.” Murray and Dave agreed with hearty laughter.

And just like that, new friends are made. No wonder Doc Walker are nominees for three major awards at this year’s Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMA). They are nominated for Group of the Year, Songwriters of the Year (One Last Sundown) and Fan’s Choice (visit to cast a vote for your favourite). I know who I voted for!

Sunday evening brings the opportunity to chat with the Bowes Brothers. Always fan favourites, they signed autographs even while Terri Clark took the stage and revved up the crowd. When I was given my ‘your turn’ signal, we wandered into a quiet school room. Terri Clark’s dressing room door was shut and labelled. The Bowes Brothers led me through an unmarked door.

We sat and bantered for a few moments. It was apparent that the Bowes family was well-stocked in the humour department, although I found a couple of the boys to be a bit shy. Nevertheless, there was always Andy. Ever the charmer, he tells a story of how, even as recently as two years ago, they would tell people “We don’t play” when asked to perform somewhere. “It was never a formal thing,” the youngest Bowes brother states. The ironic thing about the “We don’t play” answer? They were usually asked for booking information immediately following a performance. “There was a lot of hand gesturing towards the stage and ‘but I just saw you play!’ back then.”

Their favourite thing to do on days off, besides nothing? “Check out the concerts of the people we couldn’t watch while we were performing or signing autographs.” Andy says. I wonder if he means checking out the yodeling dog act he was telling me was his recent competition?

Terri Clark. We were all pretty happy to see her in concert. I know she’s a big star, born in Montreal, Quebec. She blew out some birthday candles on stage Sunday night. Her birthday is August 5th, and she let us know that Carleton Place is the closest she’s been to her hometown while celebrating her birthday in several years.

Yes, Terri puts on an amazing show. She’s a really talented songwriter and performer. Her music is grass roots and rock and roll and country all rolled into boot stomping, sing-a-long favourites that will span generations.

After the show, Terri spent signing autographs. The first 100 fans that purchased something were guaranteed an autograph (as long as they didn’t lose the orange sticker that gave them the golden ticket). They were placed in their own special line. The second line was filled with the hopefuls. If Terri still had time to sign, she’d go on as long as she could. But when it was over, it was over. Security was tight.

Although my chances earlier in the evening were on the almost definitely side, I was told Terri had changed her mind and didn’t want to talk to anyone after the autographs.

She stood less than ten feet from me. I was fighting disappointment. She headed towards me. This was my only chance.

“Terri?” Nothing. She kept going.

“Terri? “ I’m a little louder now even though she’s only three feet away from me. “Terri, I own seven of your albums and I just want to ask three questions for the local paper.”

She was going to keep going. But I’m pretty sure the “I own albums” thing got her.

“Okay. Three questions.”

“When did you know your life was going to change with your music?”

“When I received my first CCMA award.”

“What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you on the road or in recent memory?”

“There’s so many to choose from. Go to my blog and choose one.”

Gee, thanks.

“Last question.”

“Sorry, Terri has to go now.”

Wait, that was only two questions. Before I could protest she was gone. Andy Bowes stood next to me. “Hey Andy, couldn’t you have put in a good word for me?”

He laughed. “She has no idea who we are.”

“Wait, didn’t you just open for her?” Andy just laughed louder.

Still, I got the interview.

I just wish that Terri and performers such as her would remember that if people like me hadn’t bought 7 albums, she wouldn’t be on that stage.

I know Terri was worried about her friends in Alberta. She’s performed on that same stage many times in her career. But still, Diva? I don’t think so.

Thank you to the Diamond Foundation for another successful year at Riverside Jam. I can’t wait to see what next year holds!