Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why the previous blog was late...

My body must have been worried about sleeping through our gig, because I was awake before the sun and even before Louise.  Stupid body.  I spent the next few hours dozing, but not terribly successfully.  Don got out of bed first and, as requested, left the door open.  It wasn't long before I had a golden retriever on top of me.  :-)

I miss morning dog cuddles...

We decided to forgo the morning showers, etc., and get the P.A. figured out asap.  Headed down to the pub to meet our contact and check out the mixer situation.  She was there and happy to meet us, showed us where we'd be playing that night, and disappeared for a moment to show us the machine.

While standing in our "stage" we notice the room is very, Very, VERY loud.  Hmmm...  We'd better figure out a set list that doesn't require any sensitive-singer-songwriter stuff, just the up-tempo, loud ones.  You know, all three of them. ;-)

Out walks grumpy and rather rude manager and tells us we can't be here right now, they're preparing for lunch rush.  I politely and patiently (yes, me!) explain we just need to see what connections the mixer has, because if it's not something we can use, we only have a few hours to figure out what to do!


Go away.  Don't come back until after 1:00.


So, we take a walking tour of downtown Calgary.  Including walking by (not into!) the Palliser Hotel, where Don's uncle used to take him for dinner on special occasions.

Hungry ourselves, we decided to grab some lunch.  Guess where we DIDN'T go for lunch?!? ;-)

Feeling a little haughty after having so much of our day wasted and blood pressures raised, we went back to the pub with our Starbucks cups in hand, and sat at the front table until rude manager allowed Kristi to come and talk to us.

As suspected, we'd waited all that time to discover that what they had was absolutely useless to us -- the "mixer" was a stereo mixer, with just RCA jacks for inputs and outputs.

Insert primal scream here.

Alright, off to the D.I. we go!

The D.I. is a huge building, flatiron shaped.  Apparently it first opened on September 11, 2001, with its first clients being passengers stranded when all the airports shut down.  It's a full-service homeless shelter, rehab centre, food bank, soup kitchen, employment and life skills training centre -- pretty much everything you need all under one roof.

Registered clients seem to be able to let themselves in with a fingerprint screening.  We were buzzed in by the front security, and told to wait in the lobby for someone to come and get us.  Lots of folks were milling about on the first floor, with many staff running through and saying hi to a lot of them by first name.  Seems like quite the community.

Louise finally made it down -- she'd been in a meeting when we'd arrived -- and gave us a very brief tour (she'd wanted to give us the grand tour, but we were pretty pressed for time by that point!).  She took us up to the music room, which is next to an art studio, and there's beautiful hand-crafted furniture for sale in the hall.  Some of the more musically inclined clients get training in live sound and recording, those good with their hands learn carpentry, etc.  Seems they've got lots of opportunities for people to learn many new skills!

Jordan had already set up a cart with everything he thought we might need.  He was in a meeting, too, but Michael went through it all with us, and threw in a few more cords, just in case.  Unfortunately, they only had one boom stand, and it was held together with duct tape, but they gave us that and a straight mic stand.  They also didn't have any instrument mics or stands for my drum.  Drat... don't think the subtle acoustics of the cajon would carry over in that pub (2 floors, square, us in the corner by the door and across from the bar).  Sigh... beggars can't be choosers!  (But I might have uttered a few curses at the pub manager, under my breath.)

We promised we'd take good care of everything, and loaded it all into our car and Louise's.  Zoomed home (didn't get lost this time, thank goodness!) for the by-now-much-needed showers.  While I was washing my hair, Don MapQuested Long & McQuade.

The car fully loaded (milk crate of cables on my lap, 16-channel mixer precariously balanced on cello behind Don's head), we found L&McQ quite easily.  We definitely needed boom stands, not to mention ones that would stay together until the end of the gig.  We found two collapsible ones, bought a couple of extra cables and -- ho ho! -- found a great deal on a kick drum mic for only $35.  We'd use the duct-taped boom stand for that one.  Things are looking up!

We rush off to the pub in good time, when suddenly... Calgary rush hour traffic.  Eek!  A little after 5:00, we get a cell call from Louise, who's at the pub with her carload of speakers.  We're almost there -- just three blocks away!

Of course, one of those blocks is under construction, and reads "no through traffic".  Screw it, we're from Toronto -- we bump and hurdle our way through, anyhow.

Kristin is there to help us set up, as his her foul manager, who must have sensed the daggers coming from my eyes, because she keeps her distance the rest of the evening. :-)  We also meet Jessica, the representative from the United Way who's running the benefit that night.  She's carrying what looks like a fold-up lawn chair in a sling.  As we discover later, in wide-eyed wonder, this is actually a huge self-contained banner display for the United Way of Calgary -- it folds into itself kind of like an old projection screen we used to have as kids, only much tinier.

We get our gear set up -- which is kind of tricky, as talking to each other above the din is no easy feat.  I feel like I've lost my voice before we even start -- water, guzzle lots of water!  Ready for our sound check, we ask the bartender to please turn off the stereo, thinking we'll finally be able to hear ourselves.

No such luck.  This pub is like a huge echo chamber, and the table in front of us is filled with eight rather sozzled twenty-something guys.  We do the best we can on our own, and wait for Louise to return (from walking Ellie) to help us figure out the rest.  The stereo comes back on -- quite heavy rock.  Methinks this may be the wrong venue for folksy singer-songwriter fare...  Sigh...

Nevermind, Louise in all her enthusiastic cheeriness returns, soon followed by Nan and Bob from the dinner party, and a few more friends we haven't met yet.  There's a large table of United Way folks over to one side, and several other people who actually seem to be listening -- just not the table of sozzled twenty-somethings. :-)

I begin "My Cup" and hear a giant "WOAH, YEAH!!!"  I feel mighty full of myself, until I see there's a football game on the big screen...

But, if you can ignore the sozzled twenty-somethings, and the fact that neither Don nor I can hear each other, let alone ourselves, there IS an enthusiastic, appreciative audience.  Instead of our regular two sets, though, we opt for the extended single set of songs that may be vaguely appropriate for a bar setting.  We're asked to turn up the speakers by the bar staff -- so they must be enjoying it too, or just trying to drown out the twenty-somethings. :-)

These are the truly exhausting gigs.  You know there are people who are really listening, so you want to do your best and put together an ideal show for them.  But you're fighting the sound and have no idea what, if anything, they can hear, and we don't even know if we're in tune with each other.  So many good intentions...  Apparently, though, we were in tune with each other.  Or our "fan club" was too polite to complain. :-)  Some lovely comments from our new friends and total strangers.  And three encores -- though the last two seem to have come from Louise. :-)

Seeing we were pooped, she promised to stop asking for encores, and bought us beer.  We love Louise. :-)

We learned that we'd managed to raise a few hundred for the United Way.  We did good.  :-)

And then the packing up began -- many people offered to help, but with a combination of our gear, the D.I.'s gear, and some of Michael's gear (and I had earlier discovered I was missing some clothes from... maybe Victoria?), we figured it was best if we did it ourselves, to minimize the room for mistakes.

As we were halfway through our packing, in walks MY blast from the past -- Julie Van Rosendaal.  Julie was my best friend all through nursery school 'til the summer after grade one, when her family moved to Calgary.  I haven't seen her since.  I did rediscover her while working as a librarian in Cannington -- one of her cookbooks came to me for processing, and I was able to e-mail her via her publishing company.  So we've been in touch from time to time over the past few years.  She'd also helped with some of the PR for this trip, as she works at the CBC.  Louise was very excited she was my friend, because she listens to Julie's cooking show all the time.

Julie and her husband had been to a restaurant opening earlier, and had come over as soon as they could -- unfortunately, after we were finished.  But we did get to see each other again for the first time in about 35 years, which was tons of fun.  We promised to be better coordinated the next time out. :-)

We packed up our gear into ours and Louise's cars, and sent Louise home to bed.  We still had to eat dinner (and couldn't handle the noise at the pub any longer), so she recommended a great pizza place on our way home.  We grabbed a Margarita pizza with extra roasted mushrooms and took it back to the house.

Louise's car wasn't in the driveway, so we were worried something had happened to her.  We let ourselves in and said hi to Ellie, and then Louise padded out in her jammies -- she'd put the car in the garage (really? I thought garages were for storing your junk?).

Saying "what the heck? I can sleep on the weekend!", she opened a bottle of Malbec and joined us on the couch, as Ellie very hopefully watched us eat our pizza.  Sorry, dog, this is too good to share!

Louise and Ellie padded to their room, we shuffled into ours and... crashed!

Musically (or so I'm told),

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