Monday, June 29, 2015

Battle Of The Bands, And The Winner Is...

   We had beat as it turned out 37 other bands for a spot in the top eight finalists for the big prize. We practiced out in the Hotspringlodge jam room several times a day. We had achieved a big, powerful sound, and were tighter than ever. We practiced in the heat, and we even practiced with the shop doors open to let the mosquitoes in, expecting the possibility of them at the event, we wanted the advantage to be able to keep on playing even when your getting chewed on, thats dedication. We had the songs, and we had the sound. Experienced men know when they are at the top of their game, and we just knew the day belonged to us.
It was forecast to be the hottest day of the year, over 100 degrees in Pemberton. 
    I stopped on the drive out at the end of the lake for a picture as I often do. I had that confident, focused, in control feeling you get when everything is organised and in good order.
One thing struck me funny though, my truck felt lighter than it usually does when heading to a gig with all my gear. Oh well, probably just my imagination, its sure a great day, and I was glad I didn't have anything to worry about. The site of the event was another hour down the rocky road, so I got on my way.

You know when you see people bobbing around in ice cold Lillooett Lake, it's dang hot out.

The Meadows golf course hosted the event.

   They were right about it being 100 plus degrees today, and it hit me when I got out of the pickup. Maybe today wasn't the best day to be too far ahead of schedule. But I knew I was going to have to get out of it if I was going to survive the day. Rockstars go first class I've noted, whether they can afford it or not, so I decided to splurge a 5'er on one of the supposedly limited VIP passes, which gave you access to covered area were the media hung out being served appies and drinks from the bar. Most importantly to me at the moment, it gave you access to the interior of the generously air-conditioned club house.  I wandered in the back way, where I assumed a future rockstar would enter from, and around a large table blocking that route and into the VIP viewing area. 
   There was nothing going on this early, except for a few golfers sitting around after their morning round. I wandered up behind the kid manning the VIP registration table around the other side of the building, where more sensible people were expected to enter. 
"We're not set up yet,...Sir," he states, "Come back later when my Mom's here".
Well, that made it economical to enjoy the air-conditioned perks of stardom, this time around anyways. After I had been sufficiently cooled, I wandered over to the bar and ordered a tall cold non-alcoholic drink then went outside to the now empty VIP viewing area.

    Sitting back in one of the leather couches the golfers had just vacated, I surveyed the scene below as crew and people began arriving to set up. Blackwater MC would go on to own the day, and get our first big break playing the Pemberton Music Festival, in front of thousands on the big stage and being checked out by agents and business managers out looking for a rockin' band on the move, or otherwise for some reason in the market for a band with an old guy in it. Either way, its all good.
   I've been stuck out here at the hot springs for a few decades, so I haven't been exposed to much of the new music, and I'm not really up on these new fangled bands out these days. But its going to be great hanging out backstage with the big names, making the rounds of the VIP yurts and trying to figure out who I'm talking to without having to ask. 
But I can see it all now, chatting with our new buds Doug and Paul of the Black Keys, who will probably want to take us on tour to open for them. For the hell of it, I may go over and introduce myself to Kendra Lamar at her celebrity yurt,  she should probably have a pretty good table full of catered sandwiches on I would think. The Flatbread Zombies sound like they could be entertaining to go drink some apple juice with too. I suppose I might even stroll over and rub elbows with the comics, maybe ending out back of the yurt in a huddle with Cheech and Chong. 
Success was within reach, what the hell could possibly go wrong now. 
    I relaxed back into the soft leather VIP couch, the first of many more I'm sure, sipping my drink, smiling, and reminiscing over the events that have brought me this far, to the brink of stardom. 
I didn't have to reminisce too far back down the rocky road this morning before realizing I had forgot to bring my drum-kit, and suddenly went from a cool and relaxed future rockstar, to looking like I just seen a ghost. I began to sweat even more, and brought over a large potted-plant to keep handy as I felt a case of what I hoped were just the dry heaves coming on. 
In all fairness to my dumb old self, I had only forgotten about half of my drum kit. 
   Unknown to me at the time, after I left the Hotspringlodge jam room, all loaded up and organised so I thought, Nate and Josh lingered while the dust on the road settled. As they were about to pull away, they took one last moment to see if all was in order. They discussed how focused and together I was when I drove off. They decided it was a good idea to go in and see what the old bugger left behind this time. Their suspicions were confirmed when they see his drums of all things piled up there. It went on top of an already large load and they hit the dusty road to the bright lights of stardom.
   I was leaning off the sofa, hovering over the planter and alarming the waitress again, and considering taking some of the drum hardware I had along then going out and jumping off the dock into the river, or maybe just go and hide-out in the woods until this whole thing was over, when the door from the clubhouse opens wide and in stroll Josh and Nate, sort of like they share some private joke. 
"Missing something there young fella?" Josh asks.
Now I was back in full future old rockstar mode once again.
   Before the start of the days battle of the bands, a random draw was held for what order they went up. Josh drew the number 6 slot, which is right where we wanted to be. It was all falling into place.
Dentville kicked it off.

Followed by Lovecoast.
Number three was the Will Ross Band.

Number four was Marble Canyon.

Five up was the Railtown Prophets.

 Sixth draw was the notorious Blackwater MC., 
The sound guy clipped the drum mics on in a hurry and says, "Your all set."
"How about a sound-check?" says Nate.
"Just play!" says the soundman, then retreats to the cover of his shaded control board.
"And next...," a radio station personality announced into the pa, "Our only Pemberton finalist, it says here they came all the way from the hot spring today, lets hear it for Blackwater MC!"

Josh strummed into the opening bars of the popular 10 Minutes, and the girls began to dance.
    Well, the ones that knew how the song was supposed to sound like did anyways.
We ended the song to a muted crowd response, and some polite clapping. The show came to a stop as the soundman came walking over and grunted as he climbed up on the stage for about 100th time that day. 
"Hmmm", he says to himself while he studies the scene, "You might want this over a little closer to your snare." he says, bringing a short mic stand over to the kit, and bangs it around sticking it into position.
Our entire fan-club waited while the technical difficulties were sorted out.
He wanders over and looks at Josh's gear, then drags an amplifier mic over that was supposed to go in front of his amp. 
"Maybe that sound a tad better." he says, then climbs down and retreats to his seat in the shade.  
We all stared at him as he walked away, shooting arrows from our eyes into his backside. 
Unknown to us at the time, the 3 judges had a discussion whether we should be given another song, and too bad we didn't get another shot, we had a real dandy lined up just in case.
"Just play!" indicated the sound-man.

The second song was 4x4, the one we recorded to get picked for the top 8.

We saved the driving Feel The Love for last. 
We took a moment before we started. There is a subtle language among musicians, a slight gesture, brief eye contact, and often just a vibe. 
And today, it spoke loud and clear...,"Lets blow this tent right off of here!"
 Nate's Stratocaster echoed off Mount.Currie for two rotations, then we came in like a freight train.
Feel The Love. 
This fast rolling, hard rocker is always fun to sit there in the middle of, pounding out a steady 2/2 beat. About when the crowd figured the poor old drummer guy was going to expire before their very eyes, on cue, we dropped it down a notch. 
Josh stops playing and stood at the mic, while the band rolled on. 
He thanked Mountain FM, the bands, and everyone for coming out to the battle and feeling the love, The rest of us roll on behind and listen for the in.  
 About when some might have expected us to end the song and they could sit down, Josh takes hold of his guitar and shouts into the mic.
"All right boys, ONE MORE TIME!", and we amp it up and charge off again even harder. 
The mayhem ends with the two guitarists up at the drum-kit for two rotations, in close and facing me, accenting the hard driving bass and rim-shot beat with two chord riffs, then chop the final note into the last big crash.

Lozen was brave enough to get up there after us, and she really got the crowd out of the shade and hip-hopping around.
Red Chair went on last.

The world is our oyster. 
Stage 1 at Pemby Fest,, here we come, we killed the set, and were over the moon, and it felt good to have made this first big leap into probable fame on our own turf. Even though I have a few more miles on me than the rest of the guys, I think I'm going to enjoy being a rock star.
    A waitress arrived at the Blackwater MC tail-gate party with a congratulatory tray of tequila shooters. Probably sent over by the judges I figured, or maybe an entertainment mogul is sitting up there in the VIP area and wanted to show his approval before he whisked us off to some management deal.

I was hoping to wander around all evening nursing the shooter, but the waitress kept standing there tapping her foot waiting for the glass back. 
Our first big taste of success, so bottoms up and down the hatch.
I'm not much on the old firewater, and it burned the old hatch hard all the way down. 
I'll have to brush up on this when I'm more famous.
Jared, Nate, and Josh, discussing our probable gold record studded future. Lynne Christie, our club cheerleader for the day, made sure we all got fed and watered, looks on.
   All the bands and their supporters waited anxiously while the judges took their time to announce the winner of the $3000 cheque, and the spot on the big stage at Pemby Fest. Like anyone didn't already know, lol.
Time finally came to announce the winners.
"Third place", someone from the radio station says,...."Goes to The Will Ross Band!"
Second place, and a spot at a smaller festival in Whistler, went to Marble Canyon.
For the past weeks I had considered those bands to be the heavy hitters, with them in 2nd and 3rd, it was pretty much in the bag, and began to smirk to myself. 
I stole a glance over at Josh, and we exchanged a knowing look.
"And the winner of top prize is..." he said, fumbling with an envelope while we savored the moment, and after an excruciating silence he finally blurts out, "And the winner is...Lovecoast!"
I had started out already for the stage to help collect the cheque and mumble out my prepared acceptance speech, then needed to sheepishly backup to where I was. 

 Well good on ya there Lovecoast, you guys sounded great. That 3 grand will replace your van that blew up getting to this event, good luck at the Pemberton Festival, and say hi to Cheech And Chong for me.

I left the lights of civilisation and stardom behind on the long drive down the Lake road that night, with most of my gear, back out to the wilderness, and back to my former existence, and mundane life, as Hotspringlodge proprieter. 
For the time being anyways, the world hasn't heard the last of Blackwater MC.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mountain FM Taping.

    Between practices, we jumped in Josh's truck (seeing it was the newest) and drove 2 hours to Whistler today to sit down and tape a promo for the battle of the bands this weekend.
I drove, seeing I was the oldest, and acted as chaperon for those two.

 We decided that I was pretty lousy radio material, and we best keep Nate off the air for good reason (by his own admission), so it was all up to Josh.

Tyler Barr was the afternoon guy, and got him settled into the seat in front of the mic.

After a short chat, Josh threw down an un-plugged 10 Minutes in one great acoustic take. Nate and I stayed behind the partition, well away from the mic, giggling, playing air drums and guitar, and really digging it all. We will be doing the song as part of our set on Saturday, fully rocked up.

We stopped on the way back and had a look at the venue, The Meadows at Pemberton Golf Course at base of Mount Currie.

It was pretty quiet today, the crew is arriving tomorrow to set up the stage etc. When we see this place again on Saturday, it will look a lot different. And there will be 7 other bands trying for that spot at the Pemberton Music Festival. Got your ticket? Its going to be some show.

Listen to interview and '10 Minutes' here...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blackwater MC Rides Again.

   My mates and I have been spending a lot of time the past month working on some new material and getting polished up for an important gig. A battle of the bands coming up next week-end where the winner gets a spot up on the big stage at July's Pemberton Music Festival, one of biggest around,  and we submitted a studio recording along with our band bio.

Singer-songwriter front-man Josh Fairbrother went into the studio first to lay down a scratch track, or one that won't be used in the end, but gives us something to play to, at a 90 beat per minute click-track we all have to follow, especially me. The song is another of Josh's original rockers called 4x4, through his lyrics he extolls the virtues of 4x4 pickup trucks, favorite songs, small towns, and your best girl with no clothes on, and "giving you love by the truck-load".  Works for me!
Only slightly freaked-out, I went in the next week and recorded my bit. 
I had a beautiful kit of drums there to use, but even with my cymbals it is always a different feel than playing your own. All the mics and head-phones are a trip too. 
Most of the mayhem occurred between takes. A good man in the country, but a clumsy bugger in the studio, I kept standing up and bumping my head on the over head mics, or else put my big foot on the head-phone cord and stand up yanking the plug out, or inadvertently clobber one of the expensive drum mics with a wildly misplaced stick.
"And don't swear when you make a mistake...," Jay advised, "the over-heads pick it up." 
Satisfied finally, after 20 takes, and probably hoping to spare his drums and studio equipment any further abuse, Jason proclaimed the drum session complete. 
He went in later during the mixing process, and made it sound like I knew what I was doing almost.

 Our engineer/producer Jay, of Bunker 7 Productions.

Ross Edwards tuning up for his session, the other old codger of the band, he nailed his part in 3 takes.
Between the drums and bass, there is about 126 years of experience in that rhythm line.

Nate and Josh went back in last week to do the final guitars and vocals, and we left it in the hands of the staff at Bunker 7 Productions for the final mix.
I hear Josh stepped on the cord and pulled the plug out of the head-phones a few times also.

We've been getting together out here at the MC clubhouse several times a week if we can working on the set. I've found if you ever want to be in a cool band, just have a really cool place to practice.
Blackwater MC started right here in the shop, a true garage band. Josh followed me home from a jam at the old Pemberton Hotel once, and we've been playing his songs in here ever since.

 Josh and I, during our successful 2012 Farmers Market Tour, where we got paid in vegetables.

 We bumped into Ross at a jam up there too and became a 3-piece.

   We had some down-time over the Winters when Josh would go off and work at his trade that not surprisingly, pays a lot better than being a musician. But the upside was he always came back in the Spring with spare time and some new songs.
   Last Fall I heard a rumor in the valley the new teacher at the small remote school out here was, 'a bit of a guitar player.' I'm a little short of people to rock out with in this neck of the woods as you can imagine, and I thought it was just my rotten luck, someone would move out to the valley with a guitar, and it would turn out to be some school teacher.
Somewhere along about the same time, the new teacher heard a rumor that character over at the hot spring had, 'a bit of a drum kit'. "Just my rotten luck," he probably thought, "...a drummer way out here but turns out to be some old guy."
   Leroy, one of the local boys out here, roped me into getting together with him and this new teacher to play a fund raiser dance for the school last Winter.
Having a cool spot to practice in paid off again, and the guys showed up here a week before the school dance to work out some songs. 
They didn't have teachers like this when I was in school, and turns out he is an experienced guitar ripper extraordinaire. Nate Dillon as it turned out, had a twenty year career in the music industry, toured the continent with countless big name acts, and drank beer with Tommy Lee,...etc. He's been teaching for a few years in out of the way places, leading a more laid back lifestyle and wound up way out here where he probably thought he had literally come to the end of the logging road musically.
   Josh arrived back a couple months ago with some new material, and he couldn't wait to come out and hash them out in the garage.
I couldn't wait to surprise him with our new best friend Nate!
Before the evening was over, the Blackwater Motorcycle Club had a new member, and we became a 4 piece rock and roll band, his guitar and vocals have taken our music to another level already.
   The deadline for the battle of the band entries was a few days ago. We've all been working pretty hard on this whole deal, and when I started puttering on this story, we still didn't know if we were going to be chosen, and I had to consider several possible endings to this post.
I just got word today, we made the final cut. Out of the original 40 odd bands, BMC was picked as one of the final 8 that are going to sort out the pecking order next weekend on-stage at a swanky golf course in Pemberton. Third place gets some money, second place gets some money, but first place gets some money, and a gig up on the big stage at the Pemberton Music Festival, including VIP passes so we can lounge around eating catered food and drinking Perrier, etc., with a bunch of big name musicians.  Provided we win of course.

 Going to be some battle of the bands, and we're ready to ride in and kick some butt.!
                                I'll let you know how it all goes.

Link here to listen.