Friday, October 9, 2009

A Canadian Prairie Brush with Fame

Last weekend was Alexander Keith's birthday, and Venus Murphy (the celtic rock band of which I am one fifth) had two shows in Saskatoon, an 8 hour drive west of home.  We play there fairly regularly, and have a great following, the venue is awesome and everyone is always really nice to us. It's kinda funny, because they treat us like we're famous.  (We're not. But for a weekend, it's fun to play like we are.)

I love going on the road to make music - it has a way of removing us from our real lives in a way that is somehow different and deeper than just a vacation is - it's like a complete immersion in our alter-egos...  for two or three days, we're not just Kyle, Mike, Nic, Kevin and Jenn, we're Venus Murphy.  We're a Band, a unit. There to entertain, to make people dance, or sing along... hopefully to lead them out of their everyday lives a bit, too.  I'm so happy when I'm on stage. Everything else disappears, half the time I'm not even really aware of the crowd in any way more than this wonderful source of energy.  The only people in the world are these four amazing men I get to make music with.  I live for this, and when we're on, there's nothing like it.  There's no stress, no effort, just us and the music.  It's magic.

But before that... well, before that, there is the work.  We get up early Friday morning, we buy the largest coffees we can find and we hit the highway.  Going on the road as a musician sounds like fun - and it is - but there is definitely a whole bunch of unglamourous heavy lifting involved.  Our instruments, mics, wireless systems, amps and various other necessities (drum hardware, rosin, cables, batteries, extra strings, flashlights and electrical tape) fill two cars, weigh a lot (without exaggeration I figure we're about 1000lbs in gear), are valuable and in some cases delicate, and need to be attentively loaded in, loaded out and set up by the five of us.  There's a reason bands have roadies.  'Nuff said.

I love the prairie with every fibre of my being, but the drive from Winnipeg to Saskatoon is... well, basically this:

... and a little of this....

All... the... way... there.  It's beautiful, but not really eight hours worth of beautiful.

Luckily, I'm a knitter.  I think I spent more time planning and packing knitting supplies than I did on my stage wardrobe.

The project for the trip was Ruba'iyat Mittens.  Here they are as we left home...

and at Brandon, 200km down the road (don't judge my slowness, this was way early in the morning)...

They took a time out while I drove the last bit from Regina to Saskatoon and while we loaded in all the gear and did our sound check.


I knit a few rows in the hotel room before the first set just to take the edge off the nerves.  As many times as I've gotten up in front of an audience - and I have been priveleged to be able to do so many many times in my life - I still get hyped before a show.  Knitting somehow does wonders to help me settle my stomach and focus my mind on the work ahead, for as much fun as it is, making music, particularly with other people (and, if I may say so, especially when one is playing an 18-pound instrument in 3-inch heels) requires a certain amount of concentration. 

The mitten had to stay in the hotel room while the accordion and I went downstairs to do the show...

Though some of my knitting did get to come on stage:

(Yes, those are the kilt hose, finally finished and in their natural habitat.  I took this shot standing off to the side with Love of My Life played a pretty smokin' drum solo.)

The shows went great, the audience was great, but one very enthusiastic fan stood out.  He was there for both sets, both nights, and beers after the show Saturday.

Yes, fellow Canadians, that's two of my bandmates with Lorne Cardinal, "Davis" from Corner Gas. He made our fiddler (Nic, left) play on his chair. (Nic has a habit of running all over the pub while soloing.  Since he went wireless, we can't keep him on the stage for very long.).  Nic fiddled.  And Davis danced his butt off.

Now that's famous.  I love Saskatoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment