Six AM start this morning. Got my boy fed, dressed, had a big good-bye moment. Off he went to school on his new bike, and off I went to pick up our Tour van from National. Quite a bit different from the old cargo vans we used to get around in. She’s a bronze colored Dodge Caravan with 5 doors, tint, cruise and air. These are nice trucks for Touring shows like this one— we fold all the seats down and it holds our gear without crowding us.
Back at my place I do the final merch inventory, look for paperwork, check and re-check details. Michael’s arival at 2:PM is just about right for me. We load our gear carefully this afternoon— we’ll be loading and unloading this gear a couple hundred times over the course of the Tour, so it’s important that we have a common understanding of where everything goes every time. Michael is an old road hand, too, so we find we’re pretty much on the same page with our truck packing. By about 3:30 we’re ready to go.
This National Steel Blues Tour is on the Road!!! Here’s what we looked like in the first moments of the Tour.
Our first show is in Cannington, ON, a little town perhaps two hours north east of Toronto. I’m driving. Michael navigates. He takes a quick look at the Tour Book Google map for the day and we’re off! Right away he’s making changes and pretty soon we’re on the back roads zooming through some very pretty farm country. I can tell this is going to be great. If you don’t get off the beaten track, you’ll never see whatever it is we’re probably going to see!
Our first stop is Wilfred, ON. We’ve been looking at guitar shaped signs along the highway, so we’re watching for the Interesting Music Shoppe. Pretty neat. Owner Jeff Elias gives us a tour and lets us check out some of his vintage instruments. He’s got a good inventory of cool stuff. I’m eyeballing a left-handed 12 string guitar. Thankfully I couldn’t tune it, so it will have to wait for some other sinister musician! We leave a couple of tour posters, and then it’s back to the van and we’re in motion.
Rhythm ‘n Books is a warm and friendly little room in a warm and friendly little town. The staff made us welcome, and pretty soon we were greeted by the owners, Chris and Dianna. Great coffee. Michael had about 12 espressos, and I had a glass of wine. Thanks, Jamie, for putting up with us and keeping us wired. We got the PA up pretty quick, had an amazing dinner, and then show time!
This was a perfect place to shake down and get a feel for how the next two and a half months are going to shape up. We knew it was going to be good, but not how it was going to unfold. Well, it was a lot of fun. First night out to a near capacity crowd in a nice sounding room. And we sounded good, too! A whole bunch of Michael Pickett fans showed up, which was good for me because they already had his cds… Seriously, I’m really, really, looking forward to each of our upcoming shows.
Packing out at midnight we do our good-byes and then head east into the night. We’ll be staying at a waterside cottage a couple of hours down the road, but quite close to our next show. Michael and I roll into Carrying Place, ON at about 2:30 in the morning, and then sit on the deck by the water relaxing and talking into the very small hours. Life is good, and we’re glad to be on this National Tour.