Monday, August 8, 2011

Good stuff and bad stuff

I think I may have promised to write after every show.... but I’m living in a tent, as is my computer, so three gigs have passed since my Courtenay rant. Luckily, we just came home from a really great gig in Tofino, so this blog post won’t be a gigantic downer, as it may have been had I completed it earlier.
We played The Dockside Pub in Tofino.  Before we got there I was a little freaked out to be playing at a resort pub. Anyone else who grew up in a tourist town, and worked in the hospitality industry for a chunk of their life would probably understand why. There’s always something a little uncomfortable about it. A certain detachment between worker and patron.  But pretty much as soon as we got to the Weigh West Marine Resort – my fears started disappearing. The place was comfy, the people who worked there were incredibly friendly, helpful and down-to-earth – every single one of them – and the patrons of the pub, mostly locals we found, were receptive and complimentary and generous. (And the audience was, ehem, a CD buying crowd.) You could tell that the folks who worked at the pub and throughout the rest of the hotel actually liked their jobs and their co-workers. They were supportive of each other, kind to one another and wore genuine smiles. It was such a relief.
On top of it, they had everything we’d agreed on for the show all set up for us, and all of the usually uncomfortable money-talk went smoothly. Dawson and the other bar tenders and servers treated us well – too well – and Pipot, the captain for the resort’s whale-watching vessel, took us on a great adventure where we saw humpback whales, grey whales, sea lions and other ocean life up close.
It was really a dream gig. We’ll be back, and I’ll be happy if we’re only treated half as well.
On a side note – I also learned that surfers are really nice people – at least the ones in Tofino. I’m a little scared of snowboarders, wake boarders and even skaters, I have to say, but it turns out the stuff I’m put off by doesn’t extend to the surfing crowd.  Tofino is a really great, laid back kind of town. Next time we go we’ll rent boards and try the surfing thing out ourselves.

So – the bad news.

Nobody showed up for our Gabriola gig. Despite another pile of dough put into advertising – it didn’t happen for us. We were scheduled in at the Roxy, but when we got there Stephen B who owns and runs the place, sort of community-theatre style, broke the news to us that two tickets had sold. (To our friends who had put us up for the weekend.) We sat down with Stephen for an hour while we waited to see if there would be any walk ins and he told us how things had been going lately with music on Gabriola. It was becoming harder and harder to get people out for a show. Even fairly famous names weren’t getting any numbers in the audience.
I decided a few things after Gabriola. 1. We would not book any more ticketed shows, probably ever or until we became known, as in, played on the CBC.  2. We will only book gigs where we have friends in the town who will not only show up themselves, but help us get an audience together. 3. Festivals are where its at, and will definitely be a focus going forward. 4. We would way rather make no money and open for someone else than maybe make a few bucks but play for a nearly-empty room as a headliner. 5. Maybe we should just grow food and stop this silly music stuff.
Anyway, despite that, we did have a lovely time on Gabriola, roaming around as tourists. It had been a long time since Oli and I had found time to go for a walk and have a good conversation – so that part was nice. We had lovely hosts who fed us well and had a great home, and the trip was well worth it, despite the show not working out.

In Nannoose Bay we played a Sunday Afternoon show at a highway-side bar. Most of the patrons were bikers, it looked like. There were very few people there and the deal we’d originally made had not transferred through once the original booking person left, so there was some confusion. But the few people who sat down and listened were very very nice, as was the gal who worked the bar and took care of us.  Near the end of our show, there was an old man sitting at the bar talking to her, occasionally giving us the thumbs up. The bar tender later told us how much he liked us, and that he hasn’t had a nice thing to say about any other band that had come in, in fact he usually complained – but he liked us, and that was something.  She said she didn’t know what was up with the Sunday afternoon thing, and that we’d have to come back and play a Friday night. I would go back. I like highway-side biker bars.
A woman in the audience told me that people weren’t turning out for music like they used to. Ever since the recession.
Seems to be what everyone is thinking.

We’re back on the land now, in our tent, using our computers until they run out of batteries. It’s hard to live in a tent, work a day job and gig on weekends. It’s a tough adjustment going back to no electricity, plumbing, beds… or any kind of modern conveniences.  In Tofino Oliver and I were looking at some of the ramshackle houses that the first-nations people were living in, and feeling like they’d really been ripped off. But here we are living in a tent. I think we forgot that at the time.

The best compliment I’ve ever gotten is overhearing someone say quietly to himself “wow” at the end of playing a song.  It’s happened twice – both times from middle-aged men. I didn’t think middle-aged men would be my audience demographic, but they gave 90% of the compliments and bought the same percentage of CD’s at our Tofino show, and I have made a few of them cry. So… huh. I stand corrected.

Ok, that’s it for tonight.  I’m going to try and fall asleep on this thin Thermarest now.

Long Beach, Tofino

Nanoose Bay

Nanoose Bay