Breakfast with Lorne in Enderby, and then off we go to Kelowna. We are enjoying this drive through the big valley. In town early, we check into our hotel rooms and kill time until soundcheck. Nice suites here. Very comfortable. I decide to go for a run and head out along the lakeside. As I’m leaving I can hear Michael playing his guitar in his room.
It’s a busy road, with plenty of obstructions between me and the water, but after a few km I encounter a greenbelt walking/hiking trail. It seems to be an old railway right of way which follows a creek through the edge of town. I head up this path. It’s fine, crushed gravel, not too hard and not too soft. Great for running. Nice trees up either side of the trail. The creek murmuring next to me. Km markers every once in a while. This is a really nice run or walk. I go far too far, perhaps, but get back to the hotel feeling recharged.
Load-in and soundcheck at 4:30. Minstrel Café owner Clare meets us and shows us what the set up is. We end up bringing in our own mics, a couple of cables, and a couple of boom stands to set up. We carry a full, back up PA in the truck, and all too often we need to bring in bits of it. The mics here are not up to the task of a two person set up. And the fifty foot cables won’t do either. We’re up and ready pretty quickly, but we have our doubts about the volume of the whole thing. We’ve ordered food, and it is very good indeed. The staff are very nice. Back to the hotel for a snooze before showtime. Our hotel is only about 5 minutes drive from the club, so this is good.
Showtime. The place is not as crowded as we would of liked. Not bad, but not filled to capacity either. Outside on the sign it says “Doc McLean Blues Tour.” This is not an ego thing for either of us, but having both Doc MacLean and Michael Pickett up on the sign would be a good idea to maximize buzz for this show. Michael has loads of fans in this region, and they need to know that he is here! But there is a bit of a buzz, and quite a number of local musicians and blues fans have turned out to see us. Thanks, everybody, for supporting live music in Kelowna!
I kick it off tonight with Charlie James’ Blues, and the sound is better than I thought it would be, although not loud enough from my seat. But these folks are with us in a big way, and the set goes by far too quickly. Michael breaks a string on “Wicked Grin” and sings most of it without the guitar. It is quite cool. Between sets the merch table is busy— we’re selling and signing, and answering questions. These folks are into this tonight. When we start the next set we have a very quiet, very attentive house. I think we are playing exceptionally well tonight. We are both singing well. Timing is good. I have fun playing harp behind Michael on a couple of tunes. I don’t know what he thinks about it, but I think it sounds OK, even pretty good. After all these years of not playing I’m both rusty and cautious. And, heck, I’m sitting next to Michael Pickett. He’s one of the harp Kings. Tonight I sing the best “Bone Train” I have ever performed. It hits me that way, anyhow. The singing seems easy tonight. I was worried last spring, after a winter of street singing, whether or not I had finally destroyed my voice altogether. Well, I guess that’s always a matter of opinion. But everybody seems to be riding with us this night.
On the way back to the hotel Michael asks me how many dates are left. Heck, we’re coming up the last stretch now, what— maybe 10 shows or something. Hard to believe. It’s been good. I’ll miss this Tour when it’s over!