I guess there were a few of you who have been wondering about the last
journal installment. The truth is I'm one of those who catch a dose of
the blues at this time of year. I'm not sure why - I do tend to get over
it in time but
I have a little bit of Charlie Brown-itis - looking
for a deeper meaning in the season other than shopping. By Christmas morning
I'm feeling better. Kids can turn the feeling around. All my girls want
is cash, in an envelope - in fact I'm not sure they would/did even notice
if there was a card with the cash. I will readily admit that I enjoyed
going to the mall this year and picking up things for loved ones (it was
a gift certificate x-mas from Bryan) - maybe because it took me all of
90 minutes. I parked the car ($3.00 - trust me, that's a deal in Toronto)
and made surgical strikes, store, store, store, store, out. Shopping Special
Opps. It was not laborious - that's for sure.
My Christmas was pretty relaxed. I shared it with family in Edmonton.
The weather was oddly mild for the City of Champions at that time. I spent
most of my time in a grown man's version of Edmonton Oilers pajamas on
the couch reading and reaching for the chocolate Turtles bowl continually.
Santa was as usual more than generous. I'm often humbled at this time
of year - maybe that's one of the reasons I find it a little unnerving
Our good friend Merl did not make it to the Brandon show. This has happened
before and it may not be the last time. Jay, Don and I are very excited
about continuing to perform (with or without Merl) and we're having fun
doing it and what the future holds is pretty much impossible to tell at
this time. That seems to be the story of my life - every time I think
I know exactly where I'm headed the trail bends off into woods, in some
other completely unexpected direction and I hear a voice and it's God
and He dares me to make plans. "Go ahead you little puke, I dare
you". So I'm beginning to give up on the planning thing. I'm beginning
to simply ignore whatever preoccupies me and I'm trying to let each day
unfold itself before me and take me by the hand and show me where the
trail is headed - even when it doesn't look like much of a trail, even
when the voice attached to the hand says "there is no trail today,
just sit down".
Here are some music tips I heard lately that I like: FRAUSDOTS. The album
is called "Couture, Couture, Couture". And also MARAH. The album
is called "If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry". Superduper cool.
My daughters gave me "Mezmerize" by SYSTEM OF A DOWN. Yumm!
AND season 1 and 2 of TRAILER PARK BOYS. I was spoiled rotten.
I read a great, great book that a year or so ago I probably would never
have read. I could not put this one down. The book is called "A Million
Little Pieces" by James Frey. I've never read anything like this
before. I loved it so much that I bought it for Jay for x-mas and when
I went to the store to buy it the book had an Oprah's Book Club logo on
its cover. My copy did not have an Oprah's Book Club logo on it. Then
I noticed that these copies had an OBC sticker so I bought it. Now it's
not like I have ANYTHING against Oprah and her book club or anyone in
her book club. I just know that there have been a few books around my
house that have had Oprah's Book Club logos on them and I'm sure they
are fine, fine novels and I would love to read them and some of them I
have read like Steinbeck's East of Eden - but I would have a hard time
walking around in public with a book that had an Oprah's Book Club logo
on it. Now the masterminds at Harpo have decided to put stickers on the
books for guys (or gals) like me. Nothing against Oprah. I can't put my
finger on it. I guess I'm a little Oprahphobic or something. Secretly,
I guess I love Oprah's Book Club novels and I guess I love Oprah's Book
Club but I kept the truth in the closet, hidden away for so long. No one
knew the shame I felt
The truth, not unlike the sun eventually comes out
In fact, Oprah, thank you. Thank you sweet Oprah. Thank you for freeing
me - freeing me with your stickers.
OK - CBC's Hockey Day in Canada. It's snowing outside. Buddy and I have
been playing ball hockey all morning. I've been asked what breed of dog
he is. Buddy is an AIREDALE - "King of the Terriers". Wacky,
precocious and inquisitive is how I would describe him. At the age of
two and a half, he fancy's himself a lap dog and if I'm in any kind of
horizontal position he insists on having at least one of his giant paws
on me if not his entire girth lying directly across my chest. At 78 lbs,
that's a lot of love. Eventually he and/or I get pretty uncomfortable
and he heads to the floor. It feels like it's his way of hugging me before
he goes to sleep at night. Mr. Reliable.
Many thanks to TB and "18 rabbit" for taking care of us and
the good men and women of Calhoun's - you guys rock!
I hope all of you are off to a good start to the year - maybe a couple
of resolutions are still sticking.
It's all good - it's all in your head. It's all in your heart.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road this year.
c/o the Pikes
Jan 7 2006
PS - a brand new Jay Semko solo album is complete. Drop date is TBA (but
soon). Look for me here, playing the probing beat reporter, presenting
to you a full-blown Jay Semko interview about his forthcoming release.
I can tell you this: I've heard it and IT IS DELICIOUS.
Some relationships outlive us and some we outlive. And it's almost impossible
to determine which ones will survive the long haul, which will be left
for dead on the side of the road or which ones will just gently fade away.
You do get a hunch about people and something about them just sticks to
your heart. You think about them even long after you never hear from them
anymore. Others happen less "chemically" - you're paired up
with someone by circumstance and fate has the two of you locked in a closet
together for eternity - or maybe it just feels like eternity? There is
no shame in the end, no failure. Reciprocally, nothing is accomplished
for the sake of habit or convenience.
Happiness is a pretty vague state when put into words. There seems to
be so many intangibles to really make a determination such as: "I
am happy". Who knows if anyone on this planet has ever truly been
happy. I have my doubts if anyone is supposed to be happy. I'm pretty
sure that it is a rare state for our species. There seems to have been
so much misery and sadness since this earth has been hosting humans. They
have a real knack for making themselves and each other miserable.
Let me share this with you though - and I feel very strongly about this
because it is continually being proven to me to be true and I suppose
is quite appropriate around this time of year. Happiness (what ever that
is) is found from within. No jewelry, no person or pet, no car or job
or priest or parent or bottle - nothing can "make" you happy.
As ridiculous as it sounds, if the world should crumble down all around
you, should you (could you) still put a smile on your face?
There have been changes for us lately, personal and professional. When
you're in a band those two things become rather intertwined - especially
a band like ours. Professionalism at times took a back seat to the kind
of indifference you'd show in a relationship that was forgiving and loving.
We are a family and families don't always stay together.
I lost the shots I took the last time we were together. Bummer. There
were some good ones.
I was informed that pics from a card can be retieved even after reformatting
except Olympus (and I think he said Fuji too but I'm not sure). This procedure,
I was told, is not available with these brands of memory card. If anyone
has heard of this please let us know.
Beautiful Music will be an amalgamation of Truest Inspiration (which has
been out of print for some time now) and It's A Good Life. We will include
a bonus DVD of footage from the recording of Truest Inspiration and some
promo clips from It's A Good Life. Lyrics and some lovely packaging are
promised. It's taken us a bit of time to prepare this but I think we're
almost ready to go. The cover art (on the front page of the site) is a
painting by our friend Martin Soldat. He and his wife have a number of
splendid pieces for you to check out at www.soldat.ca.
Listen, I want every single soul who reads this crap to have a wonderful
wonderful holiday - maybe reflect on the good times over the last year
and think a little about what we can do better next year. What we all
have in common is that we'll be a year older and maybe a year wiser.
Love from us.
B. & B.
c/o the pikes
Dec. 15 2005
I want to thank Charles in Montreal for the phab photos he delivered
to us long ago. I hope he doesn't care too much that I've been using them
on the front page of our site.
I'm so sick of PC's. In fact I'm really beginning to hate them. None
of my Mac friends have half the problems I seem to have with my computer.
From the very first PC I bought more than ten years ago to a hand built
one put together by a PC "expert" 5 years ago to a brand new
Toshiba Satellite I bought last December, it's been nothing but trouble.
And it's not virus shit - particularly with the Satellite, it's been factory
errors and faulty hardware. I'm so ready to make the jump
I had been looking forward to this particular trip for a long time. We
knew it was going to be hectic but fun.
The weekend began in Moose Jaw. It's weird - I think we played there
all of once or twice in 20 years and then suddenly we're playing there
3 times (was it 3 or 2 ? - can't remember) over one summer.
The gig was a street party that ended up being relatively fun. One thing
that made it cool was that our pal Les Stroud was with us because directly
after we finished this weekend's worth of work, the band and Les were
headed into Cosmic Pad to begin our "Stroud vs. Pikes" album.
Les would join us for a couple of tunes through the night, bowing harp.
This guy is a VERY good harmonica player.
There was some confusion about where exactly we were to perform in Regina
that weekend - we ended up in Wascana Park where a multitude of acts were
performing that day. Because of a civil strike the intended venue of Taylor
Field was scrapped. Fireworks displays were scheduled to cap off the day
in various cities and towns around Saskatchewan to celebrate the province's
centennial. Our performance was a low key affair as it was early in the
day. And what a remarkably hot day it was! Of all the gigs we played this
summer I can say without a doubt that this was the most torrid temp we
endured. After a measly 40 minute set I was dripping. Which is a little
weird - anyone who knows climates around Canada would have guessed that
southern Ontario would win that award but no
Good old Regina made
me want to do the Nestea plunge.
We sped to the airport to catch the first of our chartered flights. I've
made mention recently that I have a bit of a fascination with aviation,
so knowing before hand that we would charter a small aircraft (small compared
to a Dash 8 or an Airbus 319 - a 1974 Piper Navajo) was extremely exciting
to me. As we were loading the aircraft and preparing to board our Captain,
Rich Wilde (I like the sound of this!!!), made mention that someone would
have to fly shotgun. Without hesitation the boys looked over at me and
gave me the "go ahead" smile. I was thrilled! I had the headset
on. I quizzed Rich endlessly. I got lessons in GPS, avionics, radar and
a host of other aviation "crap" that I'm sure a very large percentage
of you would find quite uninteresting. I listened to all of the communications
between us and air traffic control from Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon
and Lloyd ("roger, Oscar Romeo Whiskey"). Sorry, I'll stop now
It was SO cool!!! It was like Christmas for me. Our pilot quickly learned
I had a keen interest in this and he totally indulged me. Rich, if you
ever read this: thanks a lot. I had the time of my life.
Lloyd was quite fun. And packed! We saw the Marshall SK contingency there
(hi! - sorry we couldn't chat). And special thanks to Clayton Bellamy
for the use of his amp. Literally as we struck the last chord the skies
opened up and rain began to pour but fortunately it cleared up pretty
quick and the folks in attendance were able to sit comfortably through
the fireworks display. Once again we were off to the airport where Mr.
Wilde was waiting for us.
It was time for the night flight home. Weather was moody and undecided.
Rich and I could clearly see the storms ahead, behind and to the south
of us. He is such a cool character - I know more than the average person
about flying but when you're IN the 7,000+ lbs plane, being bounced around
like a pin-pong ball, you begin to feel VERY small and vulnerable. It
takes a relaxed bedside manner to display, by example, that there really
is nothing to worry about. We're getting knocked around and Rich looks
almost bored. Like I said, I have some experience with this stuff and
it was still freak'n me out.
The Navajo has this really cool feature: the leading edge (the front of
part of the big wings) can expand through a series of hydraulics that
break up any ice forming, which can be quite hazardous at 11,000 feet.
The plane also has spot lights splayed across the big wings which Rich
flipped on to check for freezing. With one press of a button the leading
edge expanded and shattered the ice forming on our wings. I thought it
was so crazy that seven hours earlier I was sweating like a dog and now
we were battling ice on our way home.
The studio experience with Mr. Stroud was the usual fair: all consuming,
at times confusing but ultimately a very satisfying experience. The tracks
came together quite well and even though we are not really close to being
finished, I think it's something we will be proud of.
Realistically we will be completing the project before x-mas. Les is currently
working on a new documentary for OLN called "Stroud: Off the Grid".
He and his family are building a home on 160+ acres of bush forest near
Huntsville that's, you guessed it, off the grid. Solar power, rain catchers
etc. Should be pretty interesting. I think it airs the second week of
I guess the summer has officially wound down. And frankly it's bumming
me out - though you'd never know it in Toronto (still hot as Hell, 29
today). I know there will be little blasts of heat and sun scattered throughout
the fall (Indian summer) but it's a losing battle. Father Winter always
gets his way. For me this has arguably been the most enjoyable summer
of touring in recent memory though. Part of what makes it fun is the weather
- performing outdoors, rain or shine. The Dundas gig will remain in my
memory for some time - crazy weather and a great crowd. I think I could
easily one day live in a warm weather climate though. Canada is a fantastic
country. Period. And opinions vary about the tolerability of a Canadian
winter. If you're really into snowboarding or snow shoveling then presumably
you can't wait for the flakes to fly. South western B.C. is certainly
an exception to the rule. I have a real admiration though for the folks
who live year round in the NWT's, Yukon or Nunavut. I live in Toronto
and for all intent and purposes, winters are pretty mild compared with
many other places in the country - I thank God I'm not dealing day to
day with prairie winters anymore. But I find myself having less and less
patience with ice and snow for months on end. There are certainly diversions
- thank God the NHL is back. And Florida is a cheap two and a half hour
flight from home if you really need a sun fix. Not bad in a pinch. The
fall in southern Ontario is spectacular but by late December I want sunshine
and (green) leaves on the trees again. And sadly, around here, come January,
winter is getting ready to kick it up a notch or two.
Summer is over.
Maybe I should go to Australia - summer is just getting started down there,
isn't it? Frost-bitten Canadian boy loses the fight against the cold.
You never know what can happen
It's bitter sweet. More sweet than bitter.
c/o the pikes
September 21, 2005
BTW - speaking of Australia, I found a very cool website: thebasement.com.
The Basement is evidently a legendary nite club in Sydney that has been
presenting cool music since the 70's. If you click on "the basement
video vault" you'll find a vast array of acoustic performances by
various artists (including moody Canadian dudes The Tea Party and hitmakers
Nickelback). I was hanging at a friends house in Vancouver not long ago
and he turned me on to a guy named Xavier Rudd, whom I thought was fantastic.
Xavier is Australian but evidently spends considerable time on the west
coast of Canada (Vancouver - smart boy) - he is featured in the video
vault. Another rock'n video performance is an Auz artist named John Butler.
Check this out - the guy is a scary-good guitarist (think Americana jam
band ala Phish meets Ritchie Havens circa 1969). Nose rings, dreadlocks
and swearing in the lyric - a parent's worst nightmare. I loved it!!!
Les Stroud, as I've previously mentioned, is the host of TV's Survivorman.
However, he was a musician and songwriter long before his small screen
stardom. Next month the Pikes will enter a studio in Saskatoon with Les,
in essence as his back up band.
Les, Jay and I convened at my house in Toronto for three days of pre-production
last week to go over Mr. Stroud's material and help him fill some holes
that may need mending.
We're not entirely sure how or when this material will surface but I'm
betting it will eventually. It's different from a Pikes album and it should
be stressed now that this is not going to be a Pikes album. Les and TNP
have become buddies and we simply think it would be fun to act as his
support system and help him color his vibe - we're his version of The
Band. I have no shortage of projects needing attention in my life, personally
and professionally - neither does anyone else in the Pikes (or Les for
that matter). So it takes the ability to look beyond idle chat and try
to predict what it would be like to work on art with someone because sometimes
working on art can be a little unpleasant. The dirty business of rooting
around in someone's soul is best done with kid gloves. Obviously we Pikes
have found a rhythm with one another largely based on a few tried and
true friendship rules: respect, consideration, honesty, stuff like that.
Twenty one years is no accident. It's probably a bit like dating (not
that I know much about that topic anymore) - you spend some time with
someone and study them and decide if you really want to take things further
based on the previously mentioned criteria. How's that for clinical
As I said, at the very least it will be fun. That's what recording is:
fun. We've spent our whole adult lives thus far trying to continue recording.
Because it's fun.
For us, that's the way it is.
From Wednesday to Friday we worked together. On Saturday morning Jay
and I met Don & Merl at the airport. The boys would arrive around
1:00 PM and we would have some time to kill. So Jay and I decided to take
in a movie. And kill time is exactly what we did. A slow, merciless murder.
I have a real karmic allergy to criticizing
well, anything. I'd
rather politely say "This is not my bag. Period" and move on.
No need to make anyone feel bad for any reason. But I feel a need to give
the readers a heads up on this one. We saw The Great Raid (based on a
true story) which was about the rescue of WW2 P.O.W.s in the Philippines.
Largest American rescue ever: 511 soldiers.
And I hope it's abundantly clear that I'm not being critical of the actual
American soldiers had to do what they had to do. The Great Raid is a pretty
shitty version of that story though - even not being witness to the actual
event, I can assure you that it didn't feel the way this movie felt. I'm
watching and a scene early has several key characters (soldiers and soldier
types) discussing the plan to get the POW's out.
I actually marveled to myself as to how weak I thought the scene was.
"Hmmm", I sincerely thought, "must be just a glitch".
With in minutes I was sneaking peeks at Jay to see if he was seeing what
I was seeing. Somewhere soon after there was one of those gun scenes where
many people are in a relatively small space, armed to eyeballs and begin
shooting one another yet no one seems to get hurt.
So many soldiers with extremely poor marksmanship! This movie made the
Japanese look like imbeciles. There was a "Dr. Evil" character
that would be responsible for many American soldiers' deaths but the guy
portrayed was impossible to take seriously.
"So Mr. Bond, we meet again
I kind of nodded off for a moment and struggled to stay awake especially
during this extremely long scene (an attempt to create a tension of some
sort) where the American soldiers are quietly creeping up on the POW camp
- just before, you guessed it, the great raid. Jay said I began to snore
at this point. I was then jolted awake when all Hell broke loose on the
screen and a good old fashioned (loud) kill-fest ensued - Hollywood style!
All told (when I was awake) I estimate somewhere in the neighborhood of
100 to 200 people were shot in this movie - mostly faceless Japanese "bad
guys". Interestingly, no one swore in this movie. Not one cuss. I
wonder if on the actual mission there were direct orders from the top,
from the Pentagon, to keep the language clean, in the Theatre of Operation?
"Men, tonight we take Cabanatuan. We will fight with a fury unseen!
We will liberate our brothers in arms. Now go! Fight!
There was also no sex or should I say no sexual content, only a thin undercurrent
of romance between two characters - this failed miserably. Disconnected
and at times making almost no sense.
Finally after an endless scene of escape through a gate, the movie concluded.
Anyway, enough of that. I won't make a habit of this negative crap. In
fact I'll try to give you tips on what I hear or see or read that I think
is good. In my humble opinion, I think this story could have been told
Refreshed (!), Jay and I were picked up by Don and Merl and we headed
to the Hammmer. Specifically, Dundas.
Southern Ontario has been experiencing a lot of rain and unsettled weather
lately and by the time we got close to our destination it was POURING.
Sure enough, there is no canopy or roof over the stage. It's bare and
all that's left is a P.A. and lights covered in plastic. Unsure if the
event was going to continue we began to wait - and the rain held off for
the time being.
It was a little weird that I began to recall the last journal entry about
almost electrocuting myself - some pathetic foreshadowing to the end of
my life. Has my luck finally run out?
It was then decided that we will go on and if it begins to rain again
we will blast through two or three hits very quickly and run for cover.
Tornado warnings were issued. Two had touched down earlier from this system.
But quite surprisingly not a drop of rain hit our heads during the set.
It was bloody humid though. I was completely soaked by the end of the
show. It was a great crowd - they rocked.
We saw old friends: Pam and Sue (their 90th Northern Pikes show!!! - do
we have to get you guys gold watches or something at one hundred !?!?),
Ryan, Tanja, Gunner and his party posse. Mr. Heddle, we must talk. Hope
you're feeling better. There was a lot of love in the air that night and
any of you that I/we met - thanks, thanks so much for everything. And
those of you who write into the site - thanks. Makes us feel like we're
doing something right.
My family was out of town this night - cottage. Don the driving machine
had me home and in bed by 1:00AM. Beautiful.
Coincidentally, starting at 1:00AM was The Thin Red Line on the History
Channel. This movie is pretty much the antithesis of The Great Raid. If
you ever need examples of exceptional and not-so-exceptional war films,
here are two.
Just trying to save you guys $11.50 (and two hours of your life).
Take care and we'll talk soon.
c/o the pikes
Aug. 21 2005
We just finished our show in Brandon - and I'll get to that but I re-read
my last entry and I began to remember so many other "nearly killed
myself" incidents from gigs that I have to share with you. I recall
a show in a small, outdoor amphitheatre at Ontario Place in Toronto around
'86 or '87. Maybe a dozen people in total attending, probably less. The
stage was surrounded by a moat of sorts. Water separated the stage completely
from the audience (8-10 feet wide and maybe a foot deep). The stage would
rotate into position
hmmm, or was it that there was a waterfall
in front of the stage that would dry up before the artists performed?
I can't recall but there was a copious amount of water involved. Common
sense suggests having an electric guitar in hand and walking in knee-deep
water would be completely unadvisable. I mean, I learned that when I was
4 yrs old. But on that particularly hot summer night, common sense had
as much opportunity to enlighten my brain as a snowball's chance in Hell.
I have a pretty clear memory of Merl looking at me with utter amazement
in his eyes - "what the f*#k are you doing"?
I walked right off the end of a bar during Teenland years ago in Montreal
- very dark, couldn't see a thing. I managed to land square on my backside.
It kinda feels physically AND emotionally like you've been kicked really
hard in the ass - the Universe saying "calm down clown". But
as Jay describes it, I do my Maxwell Smart bounce back, despite what my
body might be telling me at the time. Keep smiling son!
Brandon was a study in pliability. The room for some reason reminded me
of the diner on the TV show Happy Days. Not that it was decorated in a
50's/60's nostalgia or any of the patrons resembled Fonzie and the gang.
On the contrary, the room was largely ordinary and sectioned off into
booths mainly filled with people who looked like they should be at a Northern
Pikes show (extremely handsome!!!!). There was sort of a stage but we
still managed to figure it all out. The staff, hosts and promoter were
absolutely lovely and treated us so kindly with gift baskets. I stripped
mine of all the chocolate and candy and I looked like I was carrying around
my Halloween bag for a couple of days.
Where's my Darth Vador mask when I need it!
The people at the show were very cool - it was beyond intimate. It's the
kind of gig where I'm actually introducing myself to the people all around
my side of the stage before the show - you're that close. So what happens
is a calm comes over everyone involved and we as performers feel like
we "have the audience" before we even start.
Brandon was fun. But the best part of the trip for me was the acquisition
of my new digital camera the next day. Olympus Camedia. Discontinued model
and marked down - hey, I'm always looking for a deal. Man, is it fun though.
Click, click, click, click, click
This thing may change my life.
So now there will be a photo-docu-drama-comedy to refer to with each new
On to Winkler
I can't remember ever being in a dry town before. And there are notable
differences on a number of levels - for me anyway. There was a curiously
uneasy feeling of disarmament at first. You know, the suspicious "why
are they all being so nice to me?" thing. And after a while you realize
it's because no one is loaded. And then you realize this maybe the safest
place you'll ever play a gig.
It was a cool, breezy night and we started with a large crowd that dwindled
somewhat by the end. The crowd who hung in had a pretty good time and
it was good for us as well. A storm swept right by over the coarse of
the evening, giving the evil eye from the east but never stepping up and
taking a swing at us.
We drove out that night and headed for Winnipeg. The deal with the Regent
Casino is that you have to soundcheck in the very early hours of show
day. So it worked out well that when we headed out of Winkler, we would
get into Winnipeg in perfect time. Around three a.m. we were working out
an unexpected rearrangement of Beautiful Summer from Hits and Assorted
Secrets. It's an awful lot of fun to play that track in this new way.
The crew at the Casino absolutely rock. Brian is definitely the man with
plan. I'd love to play there every night. My only regret is that we didn't
play Jackie T. like those folks in the corner were constantly requesting
all night - sorry guys - we should have just played the damn song. Next
time - I promise.
There is a fantastic aquarium in the show room - a tunnel of water and
fish that really do appear to be swimming right over your head, like you
could reach out and touch them. My pics do little justice to how wonderful
We rose very early and began the straightest drive in Canada: The Peg
to Regina. We played a Future Shop function that was really all a bit
fuzzy considering my meager sleep allowance and the drive prior to performing.
Nothing really further to report other than driving to Saskatoon, crashing
at Mom's and climbing onto an airplane for Toronto early the next morning.
Les Stroud and Jay & I are writing this week at my place - I'll tell
you all about it next time.
c/o the pikes
Aug. 18 2005
ps - please forgive my shoddy web management skills - I'm a rookie but
I put my back into it and I'll get better. Thx for your patience...
Ok - no excuse for not keeping a regular pace here but here goes. Let's
get caught up:
The Belleville/ Moose Jaw run was a sleep deprived blur that kept me running
until Monday. I left the boys in Saskatoon and headed to Vancouver for
my buddy Joe Hrechka's wedding. It was a charming affair - Niriki, his
bride was ravishing. My pal Vince put me up on his couch. I drank too
much and slept a restless 4 - 5 hours and then left for the airport.
The gigs were fun. Belleville was wet. It was great seeing Larry Graves
and it was nice to not be contesting personal space with insects while
I was working that night. Up at 5:00AM and off to T.O. and then via Air
Canada to 'the Jaw'. Moose Jaw still gives me the feeling that I'm in
a real Western town. I've always felt that way here. I'm not sure this
place has changed much in a long time but there is a certain grooviness
to the young people that make Moose Jaw seem cool. There is some rich
Canadian history (the theatre we performed in was originally built between
I think!? Somewhere around there) and while we were there the
world famous Moose Jaw Air Show was in full swing. I have to admit that
I'm a little bit of an airplane geek - I like them, I read about them
and I've been to a few air shows before - including Moose Jaw. So it did
suck a little that there was seemingly no time to do anything other than
sound check, eat, change, play and hit the road to Saskatoon.
Oh well, next time!
Nakusp is a wonderful little town in the heart of the Kootney Mountains
in south central B.C. As previously mentioned in past entries, I love
this part of the country. And I am a huge British Columbia fan to begin
with. Over the last few years I discovered that this gorgeous, very private
place is far better know by Germans than Canadians. Evidently when Bavarian
visitors feast their eyes on the mighty Kootneys they are immediately
taken back to the German Alps in the homeland. And some of them never
go back home - they stay.
This is a great part of Canada - three cheers to the Germans for helping
us figure this out.
I want to send out a special thanks to Wylie on behalf of all of us for
the invite. Don and Matt Frenette of Loverboy had a chance to swap stick
Next came our Alberta run. The following Thursday I embarked on a flight
to Edmonton, a day earlier than our show night, to spend time with my
sister. Dinner at the Tin Palace - the Eskimos slipped by Ottawa. My brother
in law showed up - it was fun.
The show was cool for a number of reasons (Lin included) but one thing
that stood out was our opening act, Screwtape Lewis. Randy is dynamic
performer and they have a sound with broad boarders. There were some pretty
catchy songs through out their set as well. Our very own Jay produced
their most recent recording and the show that particular night acted as
a bit of launching point for the boys and their "baby".
Nice guys. Good luck with the new disc.
The next day, in the most leisurely way, we made the trip to Calgary and
McMahon Stadium. We'd been hired to perform for Roughrider fans in an
adjacent baseball diamond (home of the Dawgs!). The bill was us with Jason
Plumb. It was good seeing him again and I kind of felt a bit nostalgic
when I heard him sing. Jason really has a fantastic voice that has yet
to change much in the time I've been listening to him - which is essentially
"back in the day" in Saskatchewan when the Waltons were making
big noise (12 - 15 yrs?).
As we watched and listened to Jason from a second story dressing room
over looking the party area, Merl and I both noticed that the place was
starting to really fill up with people. And quite literally they were
flooding in through a 10 foot wide gate - people in every imaginable green
costume - make-up, wigs, prosthetics, you name it, we saw it. And it was
all green. It was a riot actually. When all was said and done evidently
somewhere between 8 and 10 thousand Roughrider lunatics were firing themselves
up for, unfortunately, a disaster of a game for the Sask. faithful. Calgary
manhandled them - Henry Burris did what he wanted, when he wanted.
Even though we were taking our beating it was still a lot of fun and I
think I speak for all the boys that we felt pretty style'n in our new
team jerseys (thanks again to the kind lady with MOM across the back of
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the Green Bay Packers of the CFL. And
to include one's self as a fan is to be associated with more of a fraternity
than a club. Their presence is felt through out the league and in a way,
Saskatchewan is the CFL. I mean the Argos are lucky to get 10,000 people
to a tailgate party in Toronto let alone in Hamilton or a similarly distanced
opponent to the Sask./Calgary tilt like Montreal or Ottawa. Saskatchewan
fans seem to relish the idea of donning the green and standing out like
a sore thumb somewhere other than Regina! This particular weekend was
a massive, boastful example of that. It's a hopeful spirit that guides
And Saskatchewan is a place where sometimes hope is all you have.
When I book my flights home I seem to have this idea that if I take a
redeye from the west I'm going to have cheated reality somehow and I'll
have "an extra day" as it were.
The problem is I can't really sleep on a plane. Everyone else around me
has their eyes closed and mouths hanging open and I'm staring into the
dark wondering how much longer I'll be awake before I pass-out. I just
end up thinking about bed for the rest of the night and most of the next
You may be starting to get the idea that I'm tired all the time which
is not the case - just on weekends! It's cool though. I don't deal with
idle time very well. Give me busy over bored any day.
So that's it so far. More dart board touring this weekend. And then I'm
on holiday for a few days.
I'll drop another line soon.
c/o the pikes
July 28 2005
We began our weekend with the guys arriving at my house around noon on
Thursday. My backyard, at the moment, is a full-fledged construction site
complete with tractor, skids of bricks and wood and a fine layer of dust
covering everything. So the Tim Allen in everyone came out - men grunting
to men about things that make men grunt.
We were joined by my buddy Les Stroud. Les is the creator, executive producer,
director/DOP and star of the coolest new show on TV: SURVIVORMAN. You
must check this out (Outdoor Life Network). Les is not only a TV star
but he is also a very talented musician and songwriter so he and the Pikes
are in preliminary talks about possibly working together.
After lunch we hit the bricks to Brockville. There was nothing really
unusual about the gig until we actually started playing. The drive was
filled with traffic - holiday long weekend - Toronto to Bellville was
a parking lot.
"Riverfest" is a civic celebration of summer that stretches
out over the holiday weekend. A Tragically Hip coverband called Little
Bones opened for us and though I didn't get a good look at them they sounded
rather convincing at times, particularly the singer. As darkness began
to set on us we took the stage. That's when the weirdness began.
There is an insect indigenous to the area that evidently makes it's presence
known every year for a few days in the summer. It is called the Mayfly.
It is a large (by bug standards), yellow, creepy looking monster-movie
you guessed it, flys. And as you'd expect, they love
the light. So what better place for several million Mayflys than an outdoor
show with many very bright lights.
We were being swarmed. Of sci-fi proportions. It was like a episode of
Fear Factor. You could clearly see that this was grossing out a lot of
people near the front and subsequently a large semi-circle formed near
the stage. Hell, it was grossing me out. I was afraid to open my mouth
to sing. Turns out that is exactly what happened to Jay. Half way through
the set he swallowed something flying near his mouth and then experienced
some trouble singing after that. Poor bastard could barely talk afterwards.
I hope people still had fun. I'm assuming that it wasn't too difficult
to see that we were struggling a little with the mess but it certainly
turned a gig that might have been rather ordinary into something I won't
forget any time soon.
We drove into the night and crashed at a hotel near the airport in Toronto.
Next day around noon we flew off to Newfoundland. On a clear day, this
is definitely a window seat flight. And it was clear! (and I was in a
window seat) The terrain coming into St. John's from the west is a fabulous,
lake-encrusted tundra with VERY few roads or any other signs of human
habitation. Then out over Placentia Bay and into town.
Gotta tell you - its really nice being back there. People are what make
up a place and places don't come much better than this place.
Great food, hospitality, scenery and an incredibly easy going, unpretentious
nature are guaranteed. The show was right on George Street downtown. It
was a blast - best gig for us in recent memory. I didn't want it to end.
Part of me was in the mood for a little fun afterwards but I actually
was more tired than I thought and decided to crash. The boys left very
early the next day - 5:00AM or some ungodly hour. They had a longer day
ahead of them with destinations to Saskatchewan. I however was in no rush
and enjoyed my Delta king-sized bed well past noon with a 5:30PM flight
I lunched with friends and enjoyed the unusually hot and sunny St. John's
afternoon and left feeling like I was leaving too soon.
c/o the pikes
July 4 2005
"Give me a sound warning. Give me a trace of love. Give me Hell
for effort. Listen to the crows cry for sustenance - they know more than
we give them credit for.
My story is a long time coming
I've been AWOL for some time now and I promise that I will try to give
a little more than I have been. I must admit that my absence has more
to do with laziness than it has having nothing to say. On the contrary,
I have plenty to say. Whether it's worth reading is an entirely different
I guess we've come full circle, haven't we? When the Pikes began some
20 years ago, it was four people, some musical equipment, a vehicle (not
always the most reliable type) and some songs. We sang and played primarily
for our own amusement but not unlike other performers, we were looking
for an audience. Usually we had something constituting an audience. However,
there were a few times when I could not even say we had that.
During those "lonely" times on stage we would turn to one another
and amuse ourselves. I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way but
deep down I think playing for ourselves is probably the fundamental reason
we do this. It's pretty much impossible to connect with an audience if
the musicians on stage are not first connecting with each other.
I can't say that I've played with very many other musicians in a live
setting before but I know this: when the four of us get together and play
music, it's effortless. Perhaps that has something to do with the modest
success we experienced or perhaps it's the infamous intangible: chemistry.
I'm sure that time has played a big part as well. We read each other with
a natural ease and it's a bit like ESP. No words are spoken (it's too
noisy for that!). Hell, eye contact is not even made most times.
These guys are my friends. I like eating dinner with them or drinking
beer with them or telling stories and laughing with them as much as I
like playing music with them. Music is just one facet of our relationship.
Hence, the full circle comment earlier. At one time we had a dozen or
so people on payroll, crew, managers, lawyers, agents, independent promotion
people, record company folks all relying on us to help feed them and their
families. And not unlike every young band slugging it out in clubs and
concert halls everywhere, we too had dreams of world domination.
I'm not embarrassed at all admitting that dream and I'm proud of the inroads
and subsequent accomplishments we made. But that was a long time ago.
We are once again four guys, some gear, a van and some songs driving around
this country looking for an audience (but mostly interested in amusing
ourselves first). There is one big difference though twenty years later.
We are confident that no matter who is in the room when we take the stage,
we can connect with them, we can rock the house. Time is really the only
teacher. That is the twenty year difference.
We broke up once before and I'm pretty sure that will never happen again.
But the truth is we are getting older and I would expect that we will
be performing less and less as time goes on. We are in a place that would
be best described as our "twilight". And there is a perception
in the pop culture world that this is a less than desirable place to be
but I have to admit, I quite like it. In conjunction with my age, it all
kinda makes sense. We have substantial lives outside of the Pikes, which
wasn't the case "back in the day". For the first ten years we
slept, breathed and ate Pike. It was easily the most important thing in
our young lives.
Yet the craving to make good art has not left us. On the contrary, I think
the last two records we made are arguably our best. Recording has become
somewhat of a vanity for us - it certainly isn't going to make us rich.
In fact, I can honestly tell you that making music for financial reward
was never the reason why we did in the first place. But to take your career
to the next level we had to begin incorporating a vast array of support
(i.e. the previously mentioned list of industry types).
So, gone is the pressure of producing for mass market. Gone is the pressure
of delivering "a hit" (whatever that is). Gone is the constant
scrutiny of critics (shadow artists
well, most of them). Gone are
the endless touring schedules. Gone is wondering what it would be like
to live a "normal life', waking in the same bed every morning
Most importantly, I have no regrets.
I would think that audience members who are fans of the band would feel
some nostalgia when seeing us live now. Certain songs will jog certain
memories, taking them back to pivotal moments in their lives. Yet our
hope is that they will always remember we are artists who feel a need
to continue to create new music despite our stature in current pop circles,
whatever that may be.
There seems to be a lust for fame today that I don't recall existing 10
or 15 years ago. People desire fame at any cost. In fact, celebrity has
become a full time occupation for some people, who upon closer inspection
do not appear to do anything that really warrants the attention they receive.
Clever publicists and the right stylist can do wonders for anyone. I could
start listing names here but that would be crass and immature. I can clearly
state that in our circumstance "recognition was not our ignition".
Notoriety was a by-product of our work as musicians. Promotion and publicity
was a necessary evil for us to attempt to make a living at recording and
performing music. I found attention outside of a concert setting embarrassing.
I very quickly grew to dislike interviews and I was equally uncomfortable
with bad reviews and good reviews, eventually giving up paying attention
to our press all together. I was never in this to be popular. All I ever
really wanted was to express myself and have some people understand what
I was feeling. And I wanted to jump around on stage with an electric guitar
and make a racket.
It was that simple.
So if you happen to find yourself at a Pikes gig in the future, be rest
assured that the musicians you hear that night are trying to make an honest
connection with you. And an honest connection with each other.
December 3, 2004