Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Atlantic Blues

Big sleep. We asked the front desk where we could go for breakfast, a good breakfast. Not a chain store. “Try Tim Horton’s around the corner,” she said. We end up at Celtic Corner for brunch. We’re not scheduled at the festival until late afternoon, so we eat and then go to get organized for the day. It will be a long day as we will play our afternoon concert, rush off stage, and drive a couple of hours north to play an evening show in Berwick, Nova Scotia.

The Festival schedule has been changing again. There’s a new time slot for us, making our late afternoon run across the province all the more interesting. Less time to get there. I email the venue and ask them to have the mics up, so we’ll be able to line check and go right on stage when we get there this evening. Meanwhile the buzz is all about cancelled shows at the festival. Some major acts are not arriving. Some acts are simply not performing. There is discomfort and speculation about money. Yes, there is stress in the air. But it is a nice day, and maybe, maybe, the ticket gods will shine on this festival today.

Arriving at Alderney Landing it is way too easy to park. We park next to the door and load in. There’s a good size stage in the middle of the complex, and a small tech crew is busy doing this and that. There’s not much crowd yet, but we are pretty early, and all the shows in front of us have been cancelled. Our sound tech, Gary, get’s us up and running in near record time. The sound on stage is great, and the mains seem to be great as well. It’s so nice to be working with a professional! I brought the Tour camera in with us, but we are too busy to use it. (If anybody has some pics of this concert, I'd love to get a couple up. Thanks!)

A crowd has begun to collect in the concert area, but people have three different schedules for us! I tell ‘em we’re just going with our instructions for the day. Later I tease that we’ll take a vote as to start time. Eventually we start our show a few minutes early. When was the last time you went to a blues show that started early? There were a lot of people waiting, so we thought we’d just get it going!

The show launches well, despite being back to back with our old friend, John Hammond. (We’d like to be catching his show, too.) John’s upstairs in the Theatre, starting at exactly the same time we are. This definitely bites into our demographic. But John’s show is completely full. And we’ve got a couple hundred people, which is enough to make this hall comfortable. Here’s what the Halifax Chronicle Herald had to say…

“Those unfortunates who couldn’t get in to Hammond’s performance were treated to the dual action of Doc MacLean and Michael Pickett (as) the pair traded licks and quips for an appreciative crowd.

MacLean, sporting his trademark chest-length goatee, also paid tribute to doomed music legend Robert Johnson with a self-penned tale of spending $300 on a mint 78 r.p.m. shellac platter of Terraplane Blues and then melting it down to get high off the alcohol.

It may be a horror story for record collectors, but it was hard not to smile at MacLean’s method for getting the music into your bloodstream.

Pickett also had something of a horror story in Wicked Grin, a tale of another Saturday night in the life of your everyday razor wielding psychopath. Slashing away at his vintage 1932 National Steel with abandon filled his blues version of Sweeny Todd with voracious gusto… For those who missed out— Pickett and MacLean return this evening at 6:30…”

Big crush after the show. We’ve only got a window of about 30 minutes to get out of here! But people are lined up to buy cd’s, posters, tour jackets. The store is open! And there’s another act coming on and we need to clear the stage fast! Remarkably we get broken down, packed, and out of the hall right on time! We’ve done this a few times before, and our experience shows in moments like these. There’s a line up at Billy’s Wings, and we can’t wait even 10 minutes— so we hit the road without dinner. We’ll try and get something pre-show in Berwick.

A fast run across Nova Scotia. We arrive earlier than anticipated, which is very good as we will be able to eat before show time. The Union Street Café in Berwick has great food, so we were actually glad we hadn’t eaten food to go from Halifax.

A thinner crowd than we might of hoped for tonight. But enough to make it lively, and they are (for the most part) a good, listening audience. We raffle a tour jacket at half time, but the lucky winner works for a radio station, and needs to wear his own colours. Remarkably he trades the jacket for cd’s!

Living quarters at the Café have suffered since my visit here last year, but we’ll manage tonight. My room has no windows, but it does have wifi, so the Blog will continue. It’s been a long day, and we’ve got an early show in Halifax on Sunday.

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