Friday, September 14, 2012

Harvest Jazz and Blues, Fredericton, NB

 I've got about two hours of driving on roads like this to reach Fredericton, NB. Barely enough time for an extra large Tim's coffee to cool down. Incidentally, the Tim's outlet in St. Andrews made dreadful coffee... The Tim Horton chain of coffee stops services travelling Canadians from coast to coast. It's a blue collar, working class come suburban sort of stop. Always the same. Or should be! Now they have free wifi, so I can skip the more expensive, yet more culturally satisfying Starbucks stops. You can't buy CDs at Tim's, but you can buy a giant coffee ordinare and a hunk of baked dough for pocket change.

I'm in Fredericton right on schedule, so I stop by the festival office and pick up my tags, check into my hotel, and grab a quick bite. I've got an early evening, outdoor show and they'd like me to arrive early for set up and sound check.

The Festival has the greatest volunteer network I've ever seen. One of the services they provide is an on call shuttle which will drive the performers between hotel and festival locations. Leaving the Lincoln at the hotel, I'm taken to Queen St., where I'll be setting up. There's something like 400 performers at the festival, and 27 stages. And there's stuff going on all around the edges.
My crew is great, and I'm set up, line checked and ready for action pretty quickly. This outdoor, no top show reminds me way too much of busking. I LIKED playing the old HooDoo Tent! But here I am, set up and glad to be part of the hustle and bustle. I'm not going to waste any time, so I've got CDs set out and I'm out prowling the area with a stack in hand. "Genuine blues cds, folks! Step right up!"

Through some glitch I didn't appear on the schedule- it just reads TBA- so I'm pretty sure I'll be meeting a new audience tonight.

Darkness comes. The lights power up. These are tanning lights, for sure. I mean these are close and these are hot. And these are bright. I've got my dark glasses on and my eyes closed. I can't see my guitar or my hands. Interesting, and a little painful. I sure can't see anything looking out! But there's a pretty good crowd out there by the end of my set. CDs are sold and signed. Thanks are given. I'm packed and off to adventure!

My first stop is the Snooty Fox to see Morgan, but he's got a line up outside the club which extends half the length of the block. The doorman won't let me in even with my festival tag ID and instruments. (This is a pattern repeated at other venues over the weekend, with other performers as well. Stupid not to let us in, or to demand a cover charge. We're coming by to sit in with our pals, to introduce other musicians. The coming and going of festival artists is what makes these nights exciting. If the venue wants every seat for retail sales all of the time, they are shooting the goose that laid the golden egg...). I go around the corner to the Lunar Rogue where my pal Matchstick Mike is playing. Here, there is no cover, and they think I'm part of the band anyway. I'm in. Above I hang with one of Maritime Canada's most storied blues/rock/soul singers. Good to meet you, Sam!

 Mike and the band kick it off and tear it up. Tonight he can do no wrong!

Sam sits in for the better part of two sets. He's actually Mikes featured guest for the Festival, and they've spent some time working on arrangements for these tunes...

 Love the Buddy Guy Strat. It's in good hands, too.

I do end up in the band before the night is done. Mike calls me up to close out the night with a couple of tunes. We do "Charlie James," and then "Angola Prison Rodeo," which Mike just pushes right over the top. Thanks, dude! Great night. Mike will be appearing with me at Plan B, in Moncton, NB, in a couple of weeks time, and then we may also do some winter shows next season...

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