I can’t wait to get on the road again…
Let me introduce you to my Truck, Simba. Before him my road-driven heart belonged to a 2005 Honda Civic named Rhonda. Rhonda was quite the reliable companion. I took her down back roads she had no business being on. In 2009, Myself and my two mates lived in her for a month and a day as we made a 14,000km round trip all the way to St. John’s Newfoundland. In 2013 I drove her 11,000km’s, Looping down through the south west U.S. in to the Appalachian Mountains and she never left me stranded. She was tough. So tough in fact, one quiet evening’s drive up to Saskatoon she was bold enough to take on a moose in Douglas Park. That was the challenge she could not overcome, killing the moose, and herself. Pour one out for Rhonda.
The times have changed, I’ve acquired a seemingly sought after little old Toyota T-100 Pickup Truck. The cruise control doesn’t work, it leaks oil (albeit much less after my handyman father got to tinkering) There’s a tear in the vinyl and a crack in the windshield. It swerves and bounces, sputters and clunks, but Gat-Dang it runs. And he will, I hope, all the way to Central America. So I’ll throw the futon mattress in the back. The guy before me, owned Simba as his fishing truck, and built a decent little bed frame in the back, I hope to buy a spearfishing gun and catch my own food along the way as well. Rhonda would have made the trip just fine, if anything just a little trouble with the secondary roads down there, aren’t they a treat comparable to the likings of Highway 42. Simba, well It’s not such a relaxed mental assurance that he can do the same. Heck it’s enough to make a guy start losing sleep in these, the last few nights before my departure. It’s gonna be 6,000km one way, give or take a thousand.
Simba’s got a wail from the engine that grumbles; I’m getting too old for this shit, but hell. But hell, indeed. When discussing with peers what’s the worst that could happen, the answer becomes more clear; Not going at all would probably be the worst that could happen. I’ve wanted to try this for years.
I think the most exciting part is I get to bring both of my Cowboy Hats… and buy more if I feel like it. So much Space!
So I’ve got my guitar, a cell phone full of albums downloaded off Ryley’s Google Play account (thanks buddy), and my trusted long time travel-savvy companion, who you might here about later. I don’t know yet, she’s not as fond of the camera as I am. But she’s coming, what good would a trip like this be without someone to enjoy it with. Not to mention, adding a second person onto the fuel bill makes the trip equal to or cheaper than a flight (Given the time of year we’re choosing to leave) Plus I’ve always enjoyed the road more than anything, and have grown quite tired of airports. Dreadful places, You gotta be on your best behaviour, everyone’s tense, and smokers must go through security every damn time. Compare that then to the open highway. Stop, start, as you please, there’s always a new road to try, no matter how close you are to home, with even the smallest insignificant gems along the way. There’s something neat everywhere.… The journey is typically the more favoured part of a trip… that’s why we’re travellers, not destinationers, lolololol! We’ll probably be driving the most direct route, albeit a boring one. The Dakota’s, Kansas State (Which, scientifically is flatter than a pancake), Oklahoma, Texas, then the right hand side of Mexico down the coast back in to the open arms of some of my favourite people, The Belizeans.
The difference between this trip, and the last ones, aside from the whole driving thing, is my mental state of health. I’m doing well. Last year I was so rock bottom that I could not wait to leave, never mind who thought what of anything. This time’s been a little more sentimental with the goodbye’s. Though I’ve known life to go on just fine without me, I still feel empathetic to all my loved ones and find saying Bye a little more prominent, and difficult, than before. So I’ve been coping best with that by avoiding them altogether. A quick email to Grandma, a brief phone call with Ryley, catching whoever’s around for a beer. Hell it’s nothing new, they’ve been seeing me off for years now. I actually had a fine sending off last Saturday in Saskatoon… Colter Wall and Blake Berglund rolled into town, and Ryley (who was in Argentina at the time of the show) had bought everyone tickets in fear of a sell out. A fear which rendered true not long after.
Joel Reviews Blake Berglund/Colter Wall
As we walked to the front of Louis, a familiar face came out from behind the curb parked vehicles. It was Colter Wall. Always being a sucker for the stars, and intoxicated enough I stammered “Mr. Wall!”. Said the same thing when I saw his dad in Swift Current a few years ago. Both times I was on Mushrooms. Colter stopped and faced us, willing to give his time and I didn’t say the first thing that came to my head which was what a friend jokingly told me to ask… “How many cigarettes do you smoke in a day?” Naww, I saw he was going for a smoke just then, and we had hollered him to a halt… Don’t impede man, you got nothin to say I thought to myself.
“Looking forward to the show!” and he replies “Well alright, see y’all in there”, He lit up his cigarette and disappeared down the street behind the venue.
Colter was passing through Saskatoon, on what I believe was his second time this year. Second time I caught him anyhow. The first was at The Capitol and he had with him The Speedy Creek Band, starring a 3 very talented musicians, none of which from Swift Current. The band had since parted ways, recently in November and Colter was rolling in Solo and brought with him fellow Good-Country sensation Blake Berglund from Kennedy Saskatchewan, and Blakes trusty lead guitarist, missing as well, the presence of a full band.
Now, completely zoned in with aid from the Shrooms, I saw every move, heard every word, caught every nod of satisfaction of both Blake and Colter, but the sold out drunken venue seemed lost when faced with the challenge of paying attention to real talent instead of hopping to a drum beat. The summer show at the Capitol had much more hooting and hollering from the crowd. Boot Stomping. But the implied energies just weren’t there last night, I was often finding their set’s drowned out by drunken chit chatter amidst the crowd.
Blake performed a lament off his most recent album Realms, It was a sad tune about the cold realities of the life we’re all eventually leaving behind, called “Crooked Old Earth”… made all the sadder by the fact that people weren’t listening! Agh, they didn’t have time for a sad tune. Here’s this cowboy pouring his heart out on stage, with insights introspective enough to make any one of them bust a tear had they caught the lyrics completely through.
Even myself, had to fend off a drunken chit chatter. There I was, watching most intently when a gal, past the point of coherent motor skills touches my shoulder. “I love your suspenderrrrrrrs” she slurred. And just like Ralphie overlooking the kid who liked the Wizard of Oz in A Christmas Story, I said yeah, eyes remained on the Talent up front. “They’re actually doing their job, not like fake suspenderrrrrrrrrrrs”. Again I replied, as Ralphie would have. Yeah.
“And I love your hat”…
At this point, Colton, Courtney, and Kim (all with me) couldn’t feed their visualizations anymore and were all taking glances back to see just who had swooned in to the watchers circle. Meanwhile, There’s Colter Wall, up front. The guy we all paid to come see, and paid early because more people were wanting to come see him than Louis had capacity for. THE STAR OF THE SHOW WAS PERFORMING ON STAGE. Where the eff did she get off thinking this was a social club?
“Do you know what size your hat is?”
“7 and 5/8”
“Wow that’s biiiiiiiiig”
I pulled another Ralphie.
It went on from here but I’m getting nauseous just thinking back… Ask me to tell you the story in person sometime. I do a pretty good impression. She was a complete bimbo.
The songs of both Colter and Blake were intelligent, well selected, and talented as all heck. Both artists have honed in their craft to a point beyond a mere hoot of respect. These guys are igniting a revolution in Country Music, a genre that has ventured down so many secondary roads at this point it’s hard to know what one means anymore if they say they like “Country”. And they’re Canadian! Stompin’ Tom would shed a tear for these boys going out night after night playing their songs that provide a little more insight than your typical beer chugging tune, and that’s not to say they don’t have those as well… All I’m saying is, if you want to see an artist express themselves, in ways more real than what you’re typically getting on the radio, if you don’t even consider yourself a fan of country music but more folk, or fancy witnessing the sight of sheer raw talent, Go catch a Colter Wall or Blake Berglund show. They come around. They always do.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a 6,000km drive ahead of me in the morning.