road tales

Aug 3/4 2012 Raymore Sk

Aug 3 (Friday) Raymore Sk.
We rolled into Raymore about 6 p.m. under cloudy skies. Not the best outlook for an outdoor event but at least it wasn't raining ...yet. We checked into the Raymore Motel and headed over to the event grounds. This was a great spread on the sports grounds! Huge tents. The giant Saturday night stage just being laid out. A few dozen campers in the distance. A ball tournament happening to one side. We proceeded to the far south side to the huge tent for the Friday night stage. This night would be all ours. Which means set up, production and the pre show work that entails.

We had barely begun to set up when a few members of the organizing committee came over to introduce themselves and begin a supply of drink tickets..bless their hearts. A cold beer, even on a cold rainy night can make work a little less "workish"...they were an attentive bunch that treated us like kings! After a quick soundcheck it started to rain, just a little.

We headed back to the motel to get changed. We didn't leave ourselves the usual time to relax at the motel with a beverage and the preshow prep. I knew that with the temp. and moisture I'd have to re-tune all of my guitars before we start (no guitar tech for the likes of me). So, quick change and back we go.

The rain was still more of a mist than anything but as we pulled back into the grounds we saw that it wasn't affecting the crowd at all... I was told by the promoters that they had sold a lot of tickets to folks who wanted to see US....we had a buzz going!!...wow! Always a good thing to hear and, with Trooper on the bill tomorrow night it's especially flattering.

I thought I'd start the night playing my latest acquisition, a '93 Fender Strat (that used to be owned by Jay Semko of the Northern Pikes). We weren't 3 or 4 songs into the first set when something went wrong. There was a signal problem with my rig...tried to play through it but it got progressively worse. I thought initially it was my pedals but to make sure, I switched to my faithful, mainstay Les Paul guitar and all was fine...so, time to rip apart the Strat I guess...these things happen.

The rain got heavier as the night went on but the crowd was fantastic!!...around 3-400. It was a beautiful night in spite of the rain...or maybe because of it?

Aug 4 (Saturday) Raymore Sk.

Don't know why but sleeping past 10 a.m. just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me no matter what time I go to bed. So Dee and I are both awake too early and figure "hell with it, we'll grab a nap this afternoon"...It was a beautiful sunny morning!

I went over to Vicky's Restaurant for some take out breakfast and coffees. Vicky also owns the Motel we're staying at. A pretty South Korean woman of about 40 with a thick accent and a very bubbly personality....She called me "Vern" for the first few minutes when we met on Friday but by Saturday morning she was calling me "Shawn"...I didn't bother to correct her. She called my drummer by the same name later...Sure, we'll ALL be "Shawn".

about noon we figured we'd head to the event grounds for a cold beer and touch base with the sound crew for tonight's show. This night was all about Trooper. The giant stage being assembled on the North side of the grounds, the huge PA and production by Barn Dog Productions from Saskatoon. Trooper's crew had to set their stage up and they'd be sound checking around 2:30 so the guys said they'd call us when we could do our own sound check...There was some confusion in the beginning with the backline...they were one drum kit short... so Shane had to set up his own kit in front of the Trooper drum riser for the opening set.. No worries. Things like that only become a big deal if you LET it become a big deal....

....Perhaps I should explain the term "backline".... "backline" refers to all of the drums, guitar amps, bass amps and such. Usually at larger events with 2 or more bands the production company will also provide backline so the transition between bands is a little easier. Sometimes (as with bands like Trooper) They don't travel with their own so they require backline for every show.

Anyway.... We hung out and had a couple of beers. We tried to go shopping downtown and found out just how small Raymore really is. To see the size of this event you'd never think that the population of the town was probably tripled because of it. There was no place to shop!..except the liquor store. 

....So there we went.
As we're paying for our treats at the liquor store we're chatting with the employee and her husband about these "adult" freezies..HUGE adult freezies!..They were telling us how awesome they were and we thought they'd be great on a searing hot day like this but we had no freezer in the motel...

She says "why don't I take 'em home and freeze 'em and just bring 'em down to the show tonight for you"...(only in a small town)

..."really?? you'd do that?"

"sure but where will I find you?"

"ask for us backstage or look by the sound tent"

Then we were back to the motel to relax with a cold one. Vern2 went for a nap and Dee and I contemplated a nap but opted to wait it out for the possible call for soundcheck.

....The crew work harder and longer hours than anyone at events like these so if they call you for sound check it is a little disrespectful to say anything but "yup we'll be right there"....The show won't work without them ya know? Take care of the crew and they'll take care of you. In the end we managed about an hour napping and at 6:30 the phone rings...they're ready for us. "yup we'll be right there"

pre-show 

We hit the event grounds again and hung around the sound tent. We went to hang out backstage for a bit. Trooper still wasn't on the grounds. it was 9p.m. when the organizers wanted to make a couple of announcements and before I knew it they announced me on!

I wasn't ready!.. Ideally, when they announce you on, the crowd applauds and you launch..

improvise.. I sauntered on (as if that was the plan), grabbed my guitar and wandered up to the mic' and said "sorry 'bout that, I was just hangin' out backstage havin' a beer with my bud's when they said my name"...and I did my little improv guitar intro to the first song, the guys came out on cue and we were off and running...like we'd planned it that way....

The set flew along the way sets on a stage like this always do...in a blur. So much adrenaline pumping all around. Our job is to warm up the crowd for the headliner, and when the headliner is Canada's #1 party band, our job is clear. Get 'em rollin'. Get their blood pumpin'. And I think that's what we did.

A few songs into our set is when the Trooper "limo bus" backed itself inconspicuously up to stage right. Well, inconspicuous to most...the driver went a little too close and bumped the stage..just enough to give us a rumble.

Epilogue....

We watched the Trooper set from the sound tent. An awesome show it was!!

....And the girl from the liquor store showed up with our "adult" freezies so we distributed them amongst the crew (mostly) and a couple others.

We are scheduled to take the stage again a little while after them to round off the event. What an act to have to follow right??!
After their set they retreated to their trailer backstage as their crew began taking care of things. The rest of the crew worked on changing the stage back to our specs. Trooper had meet and greets at the merch table to do as well so we never got to meet them backstage.
(We opened for them once before in '06 in Regina Sk and the only one I got to meet was their bass player in the lobby of the hotel we were all staying at. But that's the game. When it's a "one off" opening spot you don't always get the chance to socialize) ....

...SO when we were a few songs into our closing set, Trooper were heading for their "limo bus", we were between songs and Smitty(guitar player) popped up side stage and gave us two thumbs up and yelled "great job guys" and waved goodbye...I called him over, he came onstage ..handshake/bro'hug then went to both the boys and shook their hands...

...."Smitty" from Trooper folks! Give 'em one more round as they head out"

the crowd erupted.

What a class act!!!! I've been a fan of those guys my whole life and that was an awesome gesture from Smitty as they headed out. One I'll never forget.
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Comments

Lisa Haas September 10, 2012 @08:00 pm
 

Seeing you open up for Trooper in Raymore, SK was a pleasure. I had never heard of you before that night, and I am now a new fan! Really enjoyed the night, great music, great band. Awesome night from beginning to end! Thanks so much!

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