Still moseying strong
The trip from Winnipeg back to Peterborough was, unsurprisingly, a long one. The first day of retracing our steps brought us back to the welcoming arms of the Apollo in Thunder Bay. We arrived in town late, the sun had long since set and we slowly realized we had no idea how to get to the Apollo. Assiduously avoiding common sense we attempted to navigate our way there through vague memories and intuition, which led us deep into the industrial section of Thunder Bay. After asking a local for directions which turned out to be wildly inaccurate (Retrospectively, the random sketchy looking guy in the beer store parking lot at 1:30 AM may not have been the best choice) we finally bowed to the pressure of rationality and called Sheila for directions. Despite not playing the Apollo that night Sheila still hooked us up with food and rooms, re-affirming my earlier statements of her generosity and excellence. We left early in the morning with Google‘s directions firmly in hand, headed towards rejoining urban civilization. Google, as to be expected, gave it’s usual bizarre winding path to our destination, and as night fell we found ourselves deep in rural Ontario, in need of a place to sleep and make a fire to cook some food. Unlike the rural countryside of northern Quebec and Ontario (Rocks, trees and lakes!) where large, open and unattended spaces abound, everywhere around us was farm property, fences bristling with no trespassing signs. As it the night got darker and us more desperate with it, we settled for a seemingly uninhabited or at least rarely used field off of a gravel side road. There was no fence to be found, and it boasted a fine rock bed on which to make our fire.
Unfortunately we had several less than pleasant visitors which kept the evening from being perfect, though certainly not from being an eventful one. The usual bloodthirsty hordes of mosquitoes made their appearance, but that was to be expected. The neighbors noticing our presence and phoning the police probably should have been expected, but sadly, we were too tired, hungry and busy killing mosquitoes to consider this prospect. The cops were of a reasonable, if decidedly by-the-book, type and we managed to escape the encounter with our freedom and continued ability to trespass (Minus a few confiscated items, to be sure). The real gift they left us with was the absurd lingo they used. Some quotes: “You boys seem like straight shooters, don’t understand how you became dopers though”. Chris explained that being artists from Montreal, it sort of came with the territory. The officer thought about that for a moment, then responded “Yeah, I can understand that. I know how it is with your type”. Ah, hilarious 70’s terminology. Really, who calls someone a “Doper” these days? It’s as if they learned about drug slang from a middle school instructional video. All in all, we decided to take the evening as a success, having avoided any real consequences to our actions, and continued to drink and eat late into the night.
Peterborough, initially, did not seem particularly impressive. Due to Google’s mad directions we came into the city from some obscure rural road and where treated to the ugly, industrial end of the city as our first impression. Much to our pleasant surprise, the city’s cultural center lay further in, and the venue Cinema L’Amour was to play was right smack dab in the center. Coming in on the last day of the Canary festival, a local event showcasing bands from all over, Cinema L’Amour was to be the first show ever in the venue, a recently repurposed dollar store in the middle of the main drag of Peterborough. The show itself was excellent, Chris and Dorian sounded great and the accompanying bands, Weird Weather and Welsh Cinema, all preformed with gusto and skill. What really made the event wonderful though was the people. The festival organizer, Mike, who was also graciously putting us up for the evening, was of particular interest. Not only had he organized the whole festival, something he seemed to do on the regular, but was also opening his own venue out of an old art gallery. Most importantly though, he gave me the following anecdote about his own visit to the Apollo, reproduced here for the pleasure of all of you fine folk reading. Several years ago, Mike was holding an all ages show in town, things where going well, the music was good and the venue packed. Enter a sketchy looking older man named “Cloud Gatherer”, creepily hitting on underage girls and generally ruining the party’s vibe. Mike asks him to leave, things escalate, Cloud Gatherer throws a punch, is ejected forcefully off the porch. After picking himself up off the lawn he begins a bizarre dance and chant, pointing at Mike. He declares Mike cursed, and scuttles off into the night. Mike, being a rational man, dismisses it as the drunken ramblings of a madman and gives it no further thought. Over the next several months though, everything in his life starts to go wrong; financially, socially, artistically, the full monty. Flash forward to Mike on tour, at the Apollo, offhandedly telling this very same story to Sheila. Sheila considers for a moment, then tells him her mother Tina could probably do something about that for him. Mike then begins his show with Tina performing a traditional Greek curse removal ceremony, not only an awesome way to open a show, but apparently all the problems in his life cleared up shortly thereafter. Did I mention how excellent the Apollo is? Also worth noting was the band Welsh Cinema, some genial gentleman from Newfoundland. Talented musicians all, they had a fascinating touring strategy. Rather than rushing from show to show as we had, they had a remarkably more laid back approach to the whole business, spending a week or so in each city busking for beer and food money while promoting their upcoming show. Seemed to be working pretty well for for them too, on the morning we left they had already raised enough to buy 18 beers and some lunch.
After the show it was the standard comsumption of alcohol at the local bar with the bands and audience members, sleep in Mike’s living room, then the open road yet again, destination Toronto!