Tour, Days 33-34 – Vancouver


View from outside the Backstage Lounge

I moved everything out of the space in Seattle and was on the road to Vancouver a little after lunch. Getting to cross a province off my list today – first time to British Columbia. The venue I’m playing at is called the Backstage Lounge and is located on the very attractive Granville Island, which is just south of downtown Vancouver. My phone was inoperable as soon as I crossed the border, so I was thanking god that somehow the GPS continued to work and the map images I had looked at prior to leaving Washington stayed in my cache. I otherwise would have been stopping at every turn to ask directions…like the olden days.

Miles: 141
States/Provinces: Washington, British Columbia
Lodging: HI Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC

The border crossing took a little longer than I had anticipated so I ended up getting there about an hour before I was supposed to play. It didn’t end up mattering because the venue was behind schedule, and the sound checks for the band after me took a while. As I mentioned in the last post, I had planned to try a lot of new things at this show, so my set-up was much more complicated than previously. I ended up having to set up and sound check in about 20 minutes – which is way too short – and was stressing a bit because of it.

Backstage Lounge

Check out 3 June

The venue itself was very nice, very open. Out back was a gorgeous view of the water and the downtown area. This definitely is the most beautiful setting I have played in so far. And the show was very good. As a follow-up to my comments in the last post about wanting/needing to re-tool my set, I definitely have more songs on the chill/sombre end and feel like I need to write a few more upbeat tunes. I don’t know why, but that is hard for me. Anyway, I played very well this show. I really went for it and brought the passion and intensity as well as I ever have. I tried out the new piano song, “Little Bird,” and it went well. I was thrilled to play it, which got me thinking about the prospect of finishing off all of these travels to work on some new songs. A new song like a new woman is always exciting.

Violet Height

Violet Height

AJ Minor

AJ Minor

The headliner that night was AJ Minor, a former professional skateboarder who played acoustic guitar and sang along with a lot of old-school beats. He was a super positive and cool guy. I would not be surprised if you see him again in a much wider context than this.

During any show, I love being able to look out into the crowd and find a couple of people who I can tell are into the music. It encourages me and helps me stay focused. During this show, a very cute blonde and her boyfriend were really feeling it on almost every song. I loved it. Afterward they approached me and bought a couple of albums. They were from Finland, spending a week or so on vacation in British Columbia. I ended up joining them for several beers, as we listened to the other performers.

On another positive note – and I’m not really sure how – my draw for the show was a third of AJ’s and almost equal to the amount of the Vancouver-based band that played after me. Weird. (Writing this a couple of weeks later, after just getting an invite to play somewhere else in Vancouver, I’m wondering if I need to relocate.)

Safeway and Hostelling

After the night was done, I was a bit at a loss for where I would stay that night. It was after midnight, I would have to drive a long ways to find a campsite and I did not want to pay for a hotel, as I am heading to Europe for a couple of weeks soon and will be dropping way too much cash there. I decided to find a park that was not lit and to sleep in my car. I was heading down one of the main streets heading west, figuring I would run into the water and find a good spot. That’s when I got pulled over for the second time this trip. Bad.

The streets were so well-lit that I apparently had not turned my lights on. I had to get out and blow again. Below the limit. The cop was pretty nice and gave me a warning. We had a chat about music and he asked where I was going. I stretched the truth and said I was looking for a hotel. He told me I was heading in the wrong direction and to go back the other way. This was all providential. I turned around and then pulled over next to a Safeway I happened across.

Quick aside about Safeway: I am someone who prides himself on finding one-of-a-kind places of whatever type, non-chains with personality. That said, I love Safeway. In Chicago, I go to Dominick’s (anyone who worked with me at Cushman & Wakefield knows how much I love their soups); while I was in Texas, I went to Tom Thumb and all over the west coast, including Canada, I’ve been frequenting Safeway, who owns them all. They all have fresh bagels in the morning, great soups starting around 10:30/11am, good sandwiches, their prices are reasonable, etc., etc. You can always count on a similar layout and great food.

Safeway also has free WiFi. I was needing WiFi in this moment. It turned out that I was about a mile from a hostel, the HI right on Jericho Beach – beautiful setting in a park, on the water and right across the street from a wicked beautiful turf soccer field, which I indulged in later. I arrive well after midnight. The guy behind the counter told me that since I arrived so late, my bed would be good for two nights for the price of one. Sweet – $25 for 2 nights. (That is cheaper, by the way, than camping at just about any state or national park I’ve seen anywhere on this trip.)

Next day I do all of the fun stuff: laundry, chat with the Lithuanian and English girls who work at the hostel, pay bills, do some work, etc. The next day I am flying to Europe for a nearly three week trip. Psyched!

Long & McQuade

Last comment: Before I left Vancouver, I was looking to buy a battery-powered amp. If you are ever in Canada and are looking for the Canadian Guitar Center, go to Long & McQuade, which is better and much less creepy in my opinion. Very helpful staff. I checked out an amp, wasn’t sure I should get it, went to get a coffee to think on it and came back resolved to drop the cash, only to find out the store was closed. I caught one of the employees, however, who was nice enough to unlock the doors and go back in and look for it. Who would do that at a big chain in the US??? He wasn’t able to find the one I wanted with a box, etc. so I didn’t end up getting it. This was probably good because I would no way have been able to manage carrying it in addition to everything else.

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