Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Stiff at Mikey's, Calgary, AB

A slow start this morning. The hotel has given us a late check out time, so Michael and I will meet up at noon to look for breakfast. I wake up early. Too early. I’m getting a little tired. Some days my brain just races along, and there’s nothing to do but to go along with it. I fight it this AM. Work on the Blog? It’s way behind! Do the books? Take care of the spread sheets? Inventory? Nah, go for a run! We stuffed ourselves with pizza after the show last night, so I feel that I should do something good for my body this morning before doing anything else.

I head out and run through suburban streets of Lethbridge. Coming out at the gorge, or valley, I head up something called the “Dog Run Trail.” It’s exactly that. The wind is howling, so I turn back for the motel. I don’t want to go far this morning anyway. But my shortcut back is misleading! I’m running and running and nothing looks familiar! My luck to get lost out running! Finally I hook to a street where I can get my bearings. It’s a good, long run by the time I get back to the hotel.

Downtown for breakfast we find a great café with real coffee and real food. We then visit the downtown music store and the pawnshop next door to it. Ran into Elvis and chatted briefly before blowing town. Here's the road out.

On the way we stop in Nanton, AB, to visit the Auditorium Hotel. We couldn’t book this gig this tour, but it sure is a neat room with it’s cowboy pictures, gun racks, stuffed animals, etc. Here's a couple of images from the main street—

A nice drive north into Calgary. Arriving in rush hour is not fun, and although the city streets are arranged on a grid system of streets and avenues, the bridges and nogoes, no lefts, one ways, etc are here to make things interesting.

After about 45 minutes of this we locate the venue. I’ve played this place before under different owners.

Mikey’s Juke Joint seems kinda out of the way, but apparently it has a loyal following. Inside, there are great tunes playing on the jukebox and some very cool blues posters on the walls. The place is owned by Calgary musician Mike Clarke, a really good sax player, band leader, etc. It’s kinda nice to see a live music venue actually owned or operated by a musician. I’m hoping the PA has been upgraded since my last visit to this room!

The stage is better than the old one, more than big enough for Michael and I, and the board, monitors, and speaker bins look like they’ll probably be OK. I get word from the bar that Mike won’t be in this evening, as he is ill. I guess we’re on our own getting this up and running. Right away we need a boom stand and a couple of mics from the truck. Michael is the default sound tech on this tour, and as he gets the PA set up I do the merch sheets and set up our display. I order some food. Can’t wait. We didn’t do lunch, and I just had a muffin at the coffee joint earlier.

Michael is cussin’ over the PA system. We’ve got monitors, but no mains. Some of the channels do not appear to be working. The cables are tangled. We start tracing cables and checking this, that, and the other thing. OK the mains are powered. Get ‘em turned on. Get ‘em turned up. One side still not working. Trace the circuit. No AC. Run cable. Works now. EQ wonky. Rings on my side. This takes a long time to set up, and it ain’t great once it’s done. Sorry. Spending this much time getting a PA up should not be part of the picture in this time and place. I’ll end up playing the night with little in the monitor, little in the mains, and people telling me “you are not as loud as you should be.” I’ll be pushing my voice too hard and playing the guitar too hard. Probably. But that’s what it is here tonight. We’re not thrilled. Michael paces outside and smokes. I order a glass of wine and kill time while the place slowly fills. This gig does not seem to have made the listings, so I’m not holding my breath that we’ll draw a big crowd.

A bunch of old friends and fans do show up! One guy has seen us in Kingston, ON, and has come again to catch us in the west. That always makes us feel good! Johnny V and his wife arrive, and we exchange hellos and gossip. Our host for the next couple of days, Randy, arrives from Cochrane, and we hang out ad talk music.

Showtime, and this proves to be a great little listening room! During our first set the place is absolutely silent while we play— and the sound doesn’t seem to be as difficult as I had thought it would be. Now that the show is in gear we are actually having a good time!

There are not as many people in this club as I would of hoped for, but certainly enough to be comfortable. Second set we dig in, and they are with us. It’s a pretty good night. We sell cd’s, sign some autographs, shake hands with a whole lot of people. The night is done. This is the smallest gig on the Tour, I think, but it’s not been bad. Here's our lucky raffle winner. Paul caught the show already in Kingston, ON, but really, really wanted one of these jackets! We didn't sell any tickets tonight, as we wanted to surprise him with the Tour Jacket! Thanks for your support, Paul, much appreciated.

I see the bartender to get paid, and she gives me less money than was agreed to on my contract. This is what “Darrin” or some such guy— a co-owner apparently— had told her to pay us. I bring my contract in from the truck. I show it to her. I ask her to call Mike. She says, “I’m only doing what I’m told. It’s not my problem. Maybe you can come back and see him tomorrow.” We pretty much gave this show away already, but to be shorted on this is insulting and humiliating. The difference is not great, but she won’t budge. I’m not coming back downtown the following day for twenty-five bucks. But I’m not likely to come back here, either. I mean, what the fuck. Why? I’m not local, and this is not some kind of hobby band. The owners are no where in sight, and they are apparently directing the bar tender to ignore our contractual arrangement. Mikey’s Juke Joint. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can't buy publicity like this for $25. Actually, you can.

We go out for Chinese food with Johnny V. I watch him and Michael eat, as I’m not hungry this late at night. We gab a long time. It’s probably 3:30 in the morning by the time we find our way to Cochrane, and a couple of beds.


Joannie said...

I can't believe that someone would actually try and "stiff" you ! Well, yes I can.
You see, there are many folks out there who feel that because you are using your really isn't work. Ask any seamstress,knitter or carpenter.
Bad Karma will follow them all the days of their lives ! Joannie* in Saskatoon

Doc MacLean said...

Hi Joannie. I appreciate your comments. In this case though, I believe that it was more of a "careless mistake" involving multiple owners. Booker Mike Clark contacted me and offered to mail me a check for the missing funds. This was the right thing to do, but it does reveal problems on the operational level. I hope the other partners will allow Mike to continue his blues work without tripping him up in the future. I've posted a blog that Mike took care of business. So, you know, give this place a chance. There are not many good blues venues, a little nudge may be all this one needs. Thanks! Doc