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March 7th – North Bay – Urban Cafe

North Bay has always been good to me.

This time was no exception.

I played at the Urban Cafe, as part of a party for the Campus Free Press.  The Cafe was a tight space with lots of tables and chairs, but it also had a second level, which is where I managed to grab a seat for some food.  Having arrived there quite early, I made sure to try some of their eats, as they had been preparing for over an hour, and the smells were too much for me to handle: I had to order something.  I can’t remember what the exact configuration was, but the wrap I had was fantastic.

photo by Shannon Lepere

The Dining Dead opened up the show while I was still upstairs munching, and their take on post-rock sounded great.  Even when I came downstairs, prepared to be bombarded with volume because of the size of the room, I didn’t even need earplugs.  They knew how to play to a room, and the crowd loved them, even though they’re originally from the Sault!  I did my set and had a great time with the intimate crowd.  After explaining that the title of “How Come No Bones” came from a short story by Steve Martin, I ended up having a micro debate about Steve’s legitimacy as a comedian.  I don’t know who won, because my only argument was that “he used to be really funny!”

photo by Shannon Lepere

That night we met up with my friend Polly, who runs the  Deluxe Custom Tattoo parlour.  After a really late night in one of North Bay’s safest neighbourhoods, talking about all things under the sun and teasing fat cats with static electricity, it was time for bed.  Little did I know that the next day would bring this wonder of food, at a Lebanese restaurant beside Deluxe Custom Tattoo: behold, the cheese pie!

photo by Shannon Lepere

It may not look that impressive, but it’s a pita (or some sort of bread/pastry that seemed more deep fried), filled with a melange of cheeses.  Unreal.

November 15th – Nelson – Velvet Underground

Nelson was a rough drive. I left Calgary late, so by the time I was really in the mountains, it was pitch black, and then it started to snow, with tons of wind. As I started to make my descent, the snow changed to rain, which definitely didn’t make the drive overly enjoyable.

I arrived at the Velvet Underground (a day early) and found myself at an all ages dance party that would run until 4 am. Dave drove me back to their place (where I’d crash for 2 nights) earlier than the close of their event, and I slept for quite a while. The next day, I awoke to an awesome view, and a fire place that kept me warm all night!

Nelson was a pretty little town, and I was excited to play at the Velvet Undergound that night. Afte a little soundcheck, I played my set to a really excited audience. Everyone really appreciated the music I was making, and I was really excited that they had all taken the chance on a random Sunday night show at a venue most of them had never been to before. Dave and Simon were very kind, and gave me food for my entire stay there. That was great, as Dave was actually a culinary artist!

October 27th – Sudbury – The Night Club

Diane cooked me an awesome meal in Sudbury and we watched some episodes of the Office before I headed to the Night Club. It’s right beside a strip club, so I was a little nervous. But everything worked out alright, as next to nobody showed up anyway! It’s too bad, because it was a really big room, and would’ve been nice had it been full. It didn’t help that when I got into town, I called the promoter, and he had forgotten about me being booked for the night, meaning that I knew no one would be there even before I had arrived there.

Ah well, I met up with Clayton again and we had a vegetarian pizza from nearby.

October 10th – Montreal – Burritoville

Burritoville was an interesting place. Naturally, there was no way to get paid, other than a fantastic burrito meal. It took me a while to find the place though because their myspace page had their old address (a year old) listed, so I was on the complete other side of town, and the neighbours all thought that they had closed down. Eventually I found the place, but it was more of a rehearsal than anything. There were a handful of people that had shown up to eat food, but music was not something they were particularly interested in. Especially the two girls sitting *right* in front of me. I didn’t even get a ‘hey, this guy is making music and I feel bad that no one’s here’ pity clap.

Ah well, it was the also the first time I had to pay for lodging. Unfortunately, I tried looking for hostels only to realize that it was in fact thanksgiving (no wonder Burritoville was near empty), and they were all booked up. I contacted all 11 or so hostels, and the very last one had a room available. For $90. I know. That had better be the BEST hostel room I’ve ever seen in my life! So I got there (it was in older Montreal), and was informed that there had been a cancellation, so I managed to get a bunk in the basement for only $23 instead. However, I had left my sleeping bag in the car in a parkade, and this bunk did not include a blanket. It was a cheap, yet cold night for me. Then when I awoke, I found this staring back at me on the wall of one of the bathroom stalls.
Before heading eastward again, I stopped at a local cafe and had some breakfast.

October 3rd – London – Black Shire Pub

After Guelph I drove back to London, crashing at Reggie’s again.

Shannon and I went out to Spaghetti Eddie’s, whose portions were monstruous, and even my big appetite couldn’t finish the last meatball.

That night I was playing at the Blackshire Pub, with Modernboys Moderngirls, a band I’d heard a lot of buzz about, as well as Jane Carmichael (who had a full backing band).

I went up first (as usual, I am the ‘solo act’), and had quite possibly the largest crowd there. Even old friends from Dryden came out to see it!

Here is a review given by Drew Whitson of the UWO Gazette

*photo by Drew Nelson

Jane Carmichael went up next, playing some awesome radio friendly pop-rock with a guitar player that had the best guitar tone I’ve heard on the entire tour.

Next was Modernboys Modernboys, who delivered a really groovy dance-rock set. Unfortunately, the evening ended on a sour note when tensions flared between MBMG and the JC crew over borrowing a floor tom. It was especially awkward for me as I tried to be friends with both camps.

October 1st – London – London Music Club

London was an incredibly vital part of the tour: not only did I get to see my good friend Reggie (and stay at his house for several nights throughout my southern Ontario adventures).

We met up as I was traveling through to Windsor for some breakfast, and we were joined at one point by the Jessica Ireland, the A&E editor for Interrobang, Fanshawe’s student newpaper.
Also, December 1st was Shannon’s birthday, so we had made arrangements for her to come down and spend a few days with me in the town where she had gone to school. We even scheduled a little photo shoot with a Julie Hodgins-Zillman, a photographer friend of hers.

We also did some wandering around town, visiting some vintage boutiques where they had interesting lamps and more made out of old appliances, as well as handmade dresses and things that were of more interest to her than I! (Dresses just don’t suit me!)

But we also went for a walk through a park, which by god, had the most squirrels I’ve ever seen in one place before. It looked like a sea of sideways-moving moustaches. They were mostly of the black variety too. But I decided to get close, until I did realize (by noticing one of their tails – sparse with hair) that they are in fact part of the rodent family and that they *could* be carrying different diseases and infections should I get bitten. Still, I took the risk and got close!

Honestly, sometimes you just can’t help it, they look so cute despite giving off the impression that they want to fight you…
…fight you hard, and steal your lady.

But enough about squirrels. That night I played at the London Music Club with Pawnshop Diamond (who I played with in Windsor too) and Darelle London. It was the first of several London shows, but not quite the best (in terms of turnout).