In early November after a days drive from Vancouver I arrived in Calgary Thursday night, checked into my hotel and hit the sack. It was up at 6:00a.m. and out the door to "The Big Breakfast" TV show at Calgary's "A Channel". You arrive, have a few donuts and coffees, and then ask yourself "What am I doing pickin' and singin' at this time of day"?
That afternoon I got together with an old friend Dan(Tapper)Tapanila and we jammed away on guitars 'til our fingers hurt.
Dan and I met in Banff, I believe it was 1966, and we've been friends ever since. We've played together in several bands including Fireweed, The Fantastic Sensations and the Cement City Cowboys. Dan also plays guitar on the CD "I'm Alright Now" and three songs on "We All Fall Down".
Tapper is one of the most unique guitar players I've ever met. He has amazing knowledge of Rockabilly and traditional country styles. When we first met he continually dazzled myself and others with that Chet Atkins type of picking. Back then after our gigs ended and the bars all closed we used to go somewhere with a bottle of wine or two and pick until dawn. Those were great times!
On Saturday morning I took my guitar and headed for the studios of CKUA Radio to be a guest on "Wide Cut Country" with host Allison Brock.
Allison does a fantastic show featuring great country music you don't get to hear on commercial radio. She also has guests and does interviews intertwined with live performances. There should be a lot more of this type of radio! I guess even if there were more opportunities for shows like this, it takes a certain type of person with a passionate love for the music. Hats off to you Allison!!!
Monday I was hangin' out watching the first snowfall of the winter from my eighteenth floor hotel room and changing my guitar strings for the gig that night when the phone rang. It was my partner Bonnie Dakota. "What are you doing?" she asks. The call is so clear that I'm thinking she's calling from next door not from Vancouver. "I'm just hangin' round the hotel getting ready for tonight." "I'm at the airport and I'll be there in fifteen minutes", she said. What a great surprise! I thought Bonnie couldn't get away from work. When she arrived we went for a walk in the snow and stopped to have Thai food and then it was off to the show.
The gig was at the Karma Local Arts House. My friend Tapper came by and played guitar which made the gig incredibly enjoyable. After dropping Bonnie off at the airport the next day there was one more stop on the way out of town, the University of Alberta for a live performance and interview on Allan Baekland's show "Boot Heel Drag" on CJSW radio.
Next stop Edmonton. It was the week of The Canadian Finals Rodeo. When I got to my hotel they didn't have a record of my reservation and the place was full. After being asked to have a seat in the lobby until they sorted things out, a women came out from the office and said "Sorry about the confusion Mr. Mack. To make up for the inconvenience we hope you will accept an executive suite for the same price as your room would have been". So there I was in a suite large enough to have a ball game.
Up at 6:00a.m. again and off to the Edmonton "A Channel" for their "Big Breakfast " show. Man, it is hard to yodel at that time of day.
The following day was great!!! First I had a 7:00p.m. gig opening for a fantastic band called "Jerusalem Ridge" at Festival Place Theatre (which is a fantastic facility). Man these guys smoke!!! Then back downtown for a 10p.m. start at a venue called "The Sugar Bowl" which is a great little coffee shop that features original acoustic music.
The next day I did an afternoon gig at "The Black Dog" which is a pub on Whyte Avenue and then headed back to Vancouver.
I love those Alberta trips because besides the audiences being really receptive, I have to drive through the Canadian Rocky Mountains to get there and back again. Who wouldn't love that!!!
Thank you Kirby, Peter and Alison for the gigs, press and sound. A special thanks to the management and staff of the fabulous Festival Place Theatre, and especially to all those who attended the shows.