Before I report on the news, how about this: Our new friend Tim (DJ Co-Op) has confirmed our theory from a couple of days ago. Fernie is indeed a haunted town. He’s played at the Royal Hotel and can confirm all of our ghostly suspicions. He had a very similar experience and added a few key details, including the link above. If you have your own experiences of haunted Fernie, send them to email@example.com and I’ll post some up here.
We arrived in Winnipeg a little late and met the aforementioned Tim at Pyramid Cabaret, whose owner Dave is huge Red Sox and Patriots fan. Fortunately, the Sox beat the Yanks yesterday, so I can mention that with some amount of comfort. Dave was already a fan of ours, being that he likes Boston so much, so we didn’t even have to play well to stay in his good graces!
(We probably didn’t have to play at all to stay in his good graces.)
Another band (Shiny Toy Guns) was slated to do the early show at the club, so we wouldn’t be having a sound check. Instead, we left our gear and went looking for some food. We hadn’t eaten a real meal in twenty-four ours, so Tim took us to the vegan/alternative spot in town. As we were walking up to the door of the restaurant, there were a few guys with guitars and banjos playing songs on the steps of the building. One of them pointed at Daddy Wrall and said, “Watch out for the little guy. He’s trouble!” People knew we were coming!
The area where we ate reminded us a bit of Providence, which bade well. When Wrall and I went to get a cup of tea, the barista recognized us from the posters around town, which bade even better. Tim knows a lot about Winnipeg and its history, so on the way to our meal he gave us a little tour. The twist: we were in Bessie, but was along side us on his bicycle, pointing out the corner of Portage and Main (the gateway to western Canada) and other important sites. An odd way to get a tour, him on a bike and us in a van, but a welcome development. I think it goes without saying that we liked Tim already. (Check out the photo above. He’s the goalie, Trick and I are defencemen [Canadian spelling], Sam Nice is center and the Richard brothers play the wings.
Tim seems to know one of our favorite modern Canadian R&B singers, Remy Shand, who we (music consumers) haven’t heard from in a while. Remy’s from Winnipeg, a homemade superstar in his own right. And Tim knows our friend MC Epic, from Saskatoon. In fact, he told us a great story about Epic opening for Fugazi without having ever heard of them. “They seemed to be really popular, eh?” This is acceptable for Epic. After all, as the hook of one of his songs, he says, “I only like rap.” So there.
After we ate, we had a nice long rest at the hotel. Samuel napped while I restrung my guitar and shot the breeze with Trick Johnson. Today, Sam claims that Trick and I were cursing our rear ends off, which I can’t imagine to be true. Perhaps it’s the fact that we were listening to Guns ‘n Roses’ “Get In The Ring” or the fact that Sam was dreaming about 2 Live Crew that made him think that. T.J. and myself have family friendly conversations, exclusively, always. In fact, right now he’s distracting me with a fantastic story about crocheting and we’re about to have a round of “Row, row, row your boat.” As for Sam Nice, I think a name change is in order.
We arrived at the Pyramid Cabaret to the strains of Shiny Toy Guns, and sat outside learning about Winnipeg. Apparently its decline as a shipping port was due mainly to the digging of the Panama Canal. We learned about another haunted building, this one in Winnipeg. Unlike the Royal Hotel in Fernie, though, Tim wasn’t convinced that this one was really haunted. We learned that Winnipeg was founded at the coming together of the Red River and the Assinaboine River. Assinaboine is pronounced with the emphasis on “in,” not on “ass” as I had thought initially. In fact, I thought that Moyne LeHoyne Hoins was from around here. As his mom used to tell him, “Moyne, I woin [won’t] be able to bail you out, every toim [time] you get your ass in a boine [bind].” In fact, no.
Tim told us about the Winnipeg handshake, which is pretty messed up. Basically, it is stabbing someone in the belly with a broken beer bottle. Needless to say, we wouldn’t be shaking any more hands. Kissing babies, yes. Shaking hands, no. Hand pounds, yes. Handshakes, no. Knowing nods of the head, yes. Hands, no. Royal waves, yes. One firm pump, no. Sweet nothings whispered in ears… well, maybe not that either, but you get the idea.
Tim (now as DJ Co-Op) had a tough assignment in setting the stage with some funk after an emo band, and he rose to the challenge. Somehow, the room seamlessly transitioned to James Brown and Cheryl Lynn just in time for a little Miss Fairchild. It was a great night, all in all. The club had a really nice vibe, especially considering we were competing with Beyonce and a ska festival. (C’mon, B, didn’t you know we were going to be in town?) One guy approached us at the end of the night who had somehow seen both shows. “It just goes to show that 30,000 dollars worth of production is great, but not necessary. You guys brought it tonight and didn’t need all of that stuff.” Hey, we’ve got handmade signs!
The prevailing theme of the day was being recognized. (Or not, as the case may be.) In addition to the busker and the the barista, there was Chris, the Shiny Toy Guns fan that had heard about us and wanted a photo and a guitar pick as a souvenir. There was also this exchange as Daddy Wrall headed bathroomwards:
Some dude, touching Wrall on the arm: “Father!”
Wrall, looking around, confused: “Yeah. Daddy!”
Margo, seven feet tall and gorgeous, hearing this and catching a glimpse of Wrall and following him into the men’s room: “I love you.”
Wrall: “You don’t even know me. Are you here to see my band?”
Margo, with a quizzical look: “Wait, who are you?”
Wrall points behind her at the poster with his face on it.
Margo, wide-eyed: “That’s you!”
Wrall: “You didn’t know I was in Miss Fairchild?”
Margo: “No, but I love your style. I saw you and said to myself, ‘I just have to meet that guy.'”
Wrall: “Well, here I am.”
Margo: “Give me a shout on the mic tonight. I’m Margo.”
Wrall: “You’ll be easy to find. You’re the only seven foot tall supermodel here.”
And Wrall reports that last statement falling a little flat. Maybe it’s because Canadians use the metric system and she thought he said, “You’re the seven foot-having supermodel.” No one wants to be accused of having five more feet than regular people, even supermodels.
Continuing the theme, we returned to the hotel and a woman entering with us wanted to chat it up with the band. It was late, we were tired and couldn’t hang. “The James Brown band talked to me!” (Way to guilt a guy, for real.) But we couldn’t do it. So, we made many friends in Winnipeg, all of whom we hope to be seeing real soon! BIG ups to Tim, Tim, Dave and Elliot for hosting us and making us sound good. And to the people of Winnipeg, way to represent!
Our border crossing was not quite as easy this time around. After the usual round of questioning, we were directed to garage door number for a complete vehicle search. We waited for the door to open for ten minutes, all having to use the restroom, of course. When it finally did open, there were six or eight border guards opening and putting on blue latex gloves.
They asked us to all get our and empty our pocket and then sent us to a small triangular room with no windows, and definitely no bathroom. There was the normal barrage of leading questions that led nowhere and they searched through the van. Eventually, we were told that we could continue on our way. The man opening the garage door for us engaged us for a moment: “Happy to be back in the States?”
Me: “Sure are.”
Him: “Did you have a good show in Winnipeg? We get some pretty good acts up there.”
Me: “Yeah, our competition last night was actually Beyonce.”
Him: “How do you compete with that?”
Me: “I know. I certainly can’t dance like that.”
Him: “No booty shaking, huh?”
Me: “Don’t have that kind of a booty to shake!”
He definitely was showing us that he was a good guy despite his having to be border-ly with us, which was appreciated. I wonder if it would have been different if we had said “no” to his first question…
Sam Naughty is a thing.
Seven foot supermodel is a thing.
No soundcheck is a thing.
(Co-Op and Hunnicut/2) + (Certified Bananas-Certified) + Miss Fairchild = a thing.
The Winnipeg Handshake is a thing.
Rubber gloves is a scary thing.