Friday, December 14, 2007

Big Road Blues Tour- 1 hr. National CBC Broadcast

Just when I thought this Tour was wrapped— last night Canada's national public broadcaster, the CBC, presented a recorded concert of ours on their Radio 2 series "Canada Live." This was recorded back in late October at the Red Onion in Calgary, Alberta.

While it had been a packed, sold out show— and a lot of fun— we had had some technical problems in the first set, and we were kind of worried about the recording. So last night I poured myself a shot and sat down to hear the show. From the start, no worries. Our show was recorded and edited really, really well! The CBC Calgary team did an amazing job of presenting a Big Road Blues Tour concert!

If you missed the Tour— or missed the broadcast— you can visit a CBC website called Concert on Demand where you can play back the show on your computer. Check it out at
It's pretty neat that we can do this now! Anyway, it's a great chance to visit, or re-visit the Tour, and get a sense of what it was like and how we were received. Don't forget to explore this Tour Blog, if you have not already done so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

End of the Big Road

Doc MacLean & Big Dave McLean, backstage at the Exchange, Regina, SK. Photo by Dale Williams.

Except for coming back to make any corrections, maybe add some more photos, or respond to comments— I think this is it. The last Big Road Blog. Many thanks to everyone who took part in the Big Road Blues Tour- the buyers, the media, the Blues Societies, the volunteers, the staff, the audiences. This was truly an epic venture and, I hope, an indicator of what the future holds for blues and roots music. Over 60 dates played back to back over 25 thousand km.— with most shows sold out or near capacity. Wow! Dave and I are humbled and ever so grateful to everyone. Sincerely. Each of us has been at it for nearly 40 years, and we’ve known what it is to be hungry. We talked about this as we travelled. We’re agreed that we’ve probably earned a little bit success in this life but, believe me, it’s certainly not something we take for granted. We try to do our best every night, and we are thankful for every seat in every house and for every hospitality extended to us. As the road ahead of us is likely shorter than the road behind, we’ll not forget where we’ve been, nor the kindness of friends and strangers. Again, thank you everyone who had anything to do with any of this tour. We couldn’t of done this without you.

On a less personal level, I remarked in an early tour blog that niche audiences, artists, and presenters are more closely networked and connected than ever before- and that this works well for all of us. While this was a Canadian tour, I believe that the same factors apply nearly everywhere in the digital Western world.

And I believe that this networking- this digitally connected world- will enable niche artists to prosper. Television— and then radio— homogenized content, and then marginalized the small. The internet has done away with that. We can now have a viable, creative world scaled way, way down from million unit evaluations. Where it will go is anybody’s guess- but the here and now is good and getting better.

So, while it ain’t easy, it is more possible now than ever before for independent artists to mount successful tours. By extension, it’s also possible for agents to successfully broker this music, and it’s possible for promoters in small places to host very successful blues and roots shows. All of us are better informed than ever- but especially the audiences- the consumers- of roots and blues music. They have impressed me everywhere. Location has nothing to do with the breadth and depth of someone’s musical perspective. There are guys out there with satellite radio in their tractors- working the land in places where you can see the horizon… Anybody with curiosity and an internet connection. People who have spent their lifetimes listening. The older demographic is probably almost as liberal as the young- we are seeing genuine support and enthusiasm for new, blues-roots based music. That the blues is alive and continues to evolve, grow, touch, heal, reassure, rock and move us is a measure of this support and enthusiasm.

Given the number of dates on this tour, two of the most asked questions were “what was the best venue?” and “what was the worst?” For a time, as we moved through the venues scaled for this Tour, I tried to sort this out. What it comes down to is that there are now many, many fine places to play across Canada in the 100- 300 seat range. Great rooms where magic moments can happen, operated by people who really care and take huge pride in their spaces, their shows and their well informed audiences. Rooms where people have done all (or most or many) of the right things- stages are well constructed, quality production gear, dedicated audio tech, good lighting, consistent booking policies, good marketing and branding, long term business plans with integrity and vision, great staff, great hospitality, the return of green rooms…
And there are also places where magic shows happen in spite of the lack of all these resources. For instance, great hospitality and a great audience in someone’s living room. We played a few house concerts over this tour and really, really enjoyed every single one. The people who present these are patrons and friends, and we end up making connections that are personal, and go way beyond the business of simply arriving somewhere and putting on a show.

There were very few venues I didn’t enjoy on this tour. Even the one’s I enjoyed least were pretty darn good- including the 4 venues that did absolutely nothing to help promote our appearance. (But I guess we are experienced enough to make our own fun and roll with whatever situation we have.) Some of the venues and shows that we especially enjoyed: Union St. Café, Berwick, NS, Le Zaricot, Ste Hyacinthe, PQ, The Silver Dollar, Toronto, ON, The London Music Club, London, ON, The Exchange, Regina, SK, The Blue Chair, Edmonton, AB, The Stop, Black Diamond, AB, Lorenzo’s Café, Enderby, BC, The Blue Grotto, Kamloops, BC, The Duncan Garage Showroom, Duncan, BC, The Dream Café, Penticton, BC, The Red Onion, Calgary, AB, The Slice, Lethbridge, AB, Times Changed, Winnipeg, MB.

There were some other- quite fabulous shows- presented by Blues Societies or by Festivals. As these utilized facilities which were merely contracted for our concerts, these venues are not listed above. Thanks to the Atlantic/Yarmouth Blues Society, Canada South Blues Society, Great Lakes Blues Society, Karma, Halton Blues Society, Bruce County Blues Society, Lake of the Woods Heritage Festival, Regina Delta Blues Association, the Hornby Island Blues Society, and the Saskatoon Blues Society for hosting some really memorable shows. A number of other Blues Societies and their members helped promote our shows, and sometimes helped us connect with key presenters in their regions. Thanks to the Montreal Blues Society, the Toronto Blues Society, the Ottawa Blues Society, and the Okanogan Blues Society. If I’ve neglected to mention an organization I should of, please let me know- there’s quite a few to thank, and it has been my intent to acknowledge everyone. The Blues and Jazz Societies are remarkable organizations that are really making a difference. Thank you!

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, Fredericton, NB, showed us every hospitality and graciously added us to their programme late in their planning. We had a great time in spite of the rain. We ate, drank, and hung with our musical friends. We went to Joe’s Diner— that's it on the left. Best breakfast in the Maritimes— (‘Bird you should of come with us!), and sat in here and there around town. After a theatre show had to be postponed, the festival ended up as one of the anchor dates for the Atlantic leg of the Tour- and we very much appreciated the opportunity to perform under it’s banner.

Here's me and my pals Matchstick Mike and Watermellon Slim, sidestage at the festival.

We had a great time hearing Matchstick Mike and 'Bird Stafford. I've heard 'Bird many times doing his own, great, cool thang- but this night Mike had him pumped up like some modern day Al Wilson. He was loud and pure and could do no wrong. A thrill. It's so interesting to hear people in different contexts. The Harvest Festival provided many such opportunities. Thank you!

Here we are with some Harvest volunteers on a rainy night in Fredericton, NB

Thanks are also due to the local CBC Halifax, Fredericton, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary stations, to David Barnard at CKLN, Toronto, ON, (below- Photo by Alasdair MacLean), to Johnny Max at AM 1430, Toronto, ON, Ian Angus at CIUT, Toronto, ON, to Chopper McKinnon at Canadian Spaces, CKCU, Ottawa, ON, to Holger Petersen at CKUA, Alberta, to CJTR Regina, SK, to Rob Macleod at “The Coast 99.5 FM” Kincardine, ON, to Rowan Poots at CHRW, London, ON, to Vince Almond at CFBX, Kamloops, BC, to CKXU, Lethbridge, AB, to the Duke of Uke at FM 99.2 Ucluelet, BC- indeed to any shows that mentioned the tour, and especially to those who did live interviews or phoners. This all really helps make a tour go. That the Tour was able to gain the momentum it did may be credited partially to the interest of these national, regional and community broadcasters. Catherine McClelland at CBC Calgary recorded us for both Canada Live and for Saturday Night Blues national broadcast. Thank you very much. Like the Blues Societies, the collective impact of specialty, niche radio, is great. And the national broadcaster, the CBC, continues to be of importance to artists and audiences alike.
Holger Petersen came out to our show in Edmonton, AB

There were some other highlights to this tour- being mistaken for the old comedy duo of Maclean and Maclean. Being mistaken for Bob and Doug McKenzie. Signing autographs for all these guys. Making and renewing so many friendships. (Here's some new friends at the Acoustic Grill in Picton, ON). The Tree House in New Glasgow- the limo, the boat, the venison sausages (deer- the walking vegetable), the company- what a blast! Being lost in rural Nova Scotia. Pulling American lawyers out of a ditch. Meeting all kinds of musicians up and down the road. Being well fed. Joe’s Diner in Fredericton, NB. Swartz’s Deli in Montreal. Every encore. Every tour jacket raffle. Feel Like Goin’ Home, Charley James’ Blues, Fixin’ To Die, Bone Train, Canadiana, Jimmy Lee Jackson’s Blues… Playing for the breakfast drop in at the Vancouver Native Health building on East Hastings St., in Vancouver. Everything about the west coast islands. Being on CKUA with Holger. Hangin’ with Hoogy and Suzanne and Rick in Black Diamond, AB. Waking up at the Ocean House on Hornby Island. Eating the seafood chowder that they made us there. Smelling the special, island air! Drinking scotch with Mortz in London… That's our pal Hoogy on the left.

The Ocean House.

Dave’s induction into the Blues Hall of Fame was also a highlight. I’d structured the tour around this date and Dave’s wife, Patti, flew in to join us for the weekend. A huge thank you to Ted Boomer and the other members of the Canada South Blues Society for hosting and for making everything happen. Dave is honoured and touched by the induction. I feel honored to have been with him for this event.

Big Dave McLean, photo by Dale Williams.

The Maple Blues Award (Canada’s BMA’s or Handy’s) nominations were announced while we were in western Canada. It was really gratifying to see that our Tour has had a national impact, with Big Dave McLean receiving a nomination for “Acoustic Blues Act of the Year.” Dave’s had quite a few Maple nominations before- so maybe he’ll win this one at last. Good luck, Dave! Vote for him, if it’s not too late! Visit to vote for nominees in all categories. The nominations are probably more significant than the Awards themselves. Congrats to all the nominees.

The Big Road Blues Tour- Doc MacLean & Big Dave McLean, photo by Dale Williams.

What else? Dave and I had a great time together. We’ve become close friends, and I think it’s safe to say we have a high degree of respect for one and other. The music was good from the start. By the end we were doing some pretty special stuff. Would we do it again? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. Will we? That remains to be seen. The Big Road Blues Tour was planned and executed as a “one shot” opportunity to see Dave and I play together in this duo, acoustic context. Judging by the response we got across Canada, we could do it again without making anyone mad. I’m already getting a few calls asking about it. So I guess future shows will depend upon the offer. However, we’re both pretty busy artists on our own. I’ve got two other package tours in the works, and Dave has his band, plus a new album expected out by next fall. So we’ll see. Off the top, I think we’d be open to at least some festival appearances together, and we’d consider USA, Europe and Australia as Big Road tour destinations. It might well be some time, if ever, before Dave and I go out on a Canadian tour as big and as cool as the Big Road Blues Tour. It was great. Thank you so very much for stopping by and sharing it with us.

I hope some of you have enjoyed following the Blog. It’s not everything, but I’ve tried to give a picture of the inside of a huge Canadian blues tour from start to finish. I was hoping to see more comments, but I guess the reality is that much of the blues-roots demographic doesn’t blog yet. Ah, well… Hey, we’ll see you out there on the Blues Highway. This ain’t good-bye. Best Regards — Doc MacLean

P.S.- Dave says “hi!”

***NOTE: in some browsers the "older posts" link at the bottom of the scroll does not seem to work! To check out the entire Big Road Blues Tour from the beginning, or from whenever, use the ARCHIVE links in the black sidebar (upper right) which do a great job of bringing up the archived tour blogs. And give 'em time to load- there's plenty of pics. Thanks.

Big Dave McLean is a Stony Plain recording artist and has two cds available— "Blues From the Middle," and "For the Blues Always." For additional information visit

Doc MacLean's recent cd, "Narrow House," is available via CDMojo, CDBaby, iTunes, and dozens of other on-line distributors. For additional information visit For bookings or interviews please contact doc(at) docmaclean(dot)com

Friday, November 16, 2007

SOCAN Paperwork & Reflection

Coming slowly to the end of the wrap-up. I've been organizing the Notification of Live Performance forms to submit to SOCAN. This is the organization that administrates the collection and distribution of royalties for the use of songs in Canada. Without going into too much detail, most- if not all- songs are copyright and will have a variety of stakeholders in the form of composers, authors, co-authors, and publishers. In Canada stakeholders are paid for the public broadcast or performance of their works via the licensing of broadcast systems and performance venues. That's a pretty general explanation, but it gets to the heart of the matter- Canadian copyright law recognizes that songs are owned, and provides some mandates to see that the owners of the songs get paid for their use in broadcast or live performance. Although these are not (in my opinion at least) huge tariffs, there remains plenty of debate by broadcasters, presenters, artists, composers, authors and publishers as to the fairness of the system, and how it can best be improved. If the system of auditing, reporting, collecting and distributing royalties is flawed and difficult to comprehend, it does implicitly recognize compositions as valued property and tries to ensure that it's creators and owners are compensated. Songwriters like Big Dave and myself, owners like Muddy's children and grandchildren, the Lomax family, and Dick Waterman. Anyway, that's where we are going in legal-cultural terms. So I am learning to deal more responsibly with this reality in the context of a high profile, national tour. This time- a pile of new paperwork.

Yes, I can submit Performance Notifications on line, but the onus of providing documentation for each performance would require the sorting and scanning of enough material- from ticket stubs to programmes, to reviews, newspaper ads, set lists and contracts- that I am not yet prepared to undertake this. Maybe next time. This time it's photocopies, staples and paperclips. I think for the next tour I will compile this stuff daily- on the laptop, after the show, with all the other stuff. Doing it all at once, post tour, has taken more time than I would of liked. But it's in the mail today, so the post-tour work is clearly coming to an end. And, what the heck, maybe Son's daughter, or one of his grandchildren, will get a little something- and perhaps it will make a difference. Who knows? Anyway, when we are all in the groove with this, it won't take long to do, and I think we'll be doing the right thing.

But, speaking of distributions, I was looking- again- at the way SOCAN collects play info from college and community radio stations, and I think there is a real need to revamp and reform the way this information is collected. As results of sampling are entirely reliant on chance, on random factors, no other business would survive- or be allowed to operate in this fashion. Particularly in this digital age. iTunes knows what cd I put in my drive- and yours- so to suggest that Canadian radio stations don't know/can't report what they play and/or that a database system could not manage these few hundred daily station submissions at a reasonable cost is getting pretty far-fetched. It's time to move from sampling to actuals. Sampling means that independent artists who have their songs featured on radio are, in fact, randomly compensated. Statistics -which explore or try to determine the quality of the sampling- are merely commenting upon the degree of randomness, and it's significance for the more predominant components. Chances may be greater or smaller depending upon a number of varients- but ultimately the payout is random and is supported by non-payments to the non-sampled artists. That's my view, and I'll be advancing it in more appropriate forums. Please don't get the idea from this post that I don't support SOCAN's work. I do- I'd simply like to help evolve certain aspects of it.

Aside from all this brain stuff, I've been processing piles (rather digital volumes) of snaps that various people have sent me of the Big Road Blues Tour. If you work your way back through the Blog, you'll see that I've added quite a few pics to nearly every date of the Tour. A few more pics to install, and I'll be done. And I think one more Blog to conclude the Big Road Blues Tour. I've been talking to Dave on the phone- he says "hi!" Dave will be back to Bud's on Broadway, in Saskatoon, SK, in a couple of weeks time. He'll also be going into the studio with his band to work on his upcoming acoustic album. And he's back at Times Changed in Winnipeg every Sunday night- so go see him if you happen to be in that part of the world. I'm hoping to be on my way to Nashville later next week. That's all for now- thanks for stopping by. — Doc

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Winding Down the Big Road Blues Tour

Another post? But the last show was last week! Yup, but for anybody who has been following the Big Road Blues Tour, I thought I should continue the blog a little longer. The Big Dave McLean- Doc MacLean Big Road Blues shows are over for the time being, but a tour of this size doesn't just shut down after the last set. On this Blog we've tried to share something of being on and in a national blues tour. I haven't spent too much time talking about the business end, but you have probably got the idea by now that there is a whole lot of computer-phone-Blackberry stuff going on in the margins. This would include approximately 1570 unique emails (900 0ut and 670 In), 30 phoners with media, 6 live radio shows, 2 pre-recorded radio shows, 1 television interview... Then there have been the ongoing press releases, timed for each market region, and the research needed to produce and maintain the media contacts. In the course of doing all this stuff four websites needed to be upgraded and maintained. Databases needed to be merged. The Tour needed to be conceptualized, branded and marketed. Over 55 individual contracts had to be negotiated for the 60 plus shows that the Tour became. Merch needed to be financed, manufactured, packaged and shipped. Accounts needed to be maintained for all expenses and income, both personal and tour. The bound Tour Book guiding our daily activities was nearly 2 inches thick! This included maps, directions, hotel information, tech information, stage and show requirements, drive times, special instructions... Excel spreadsheets were created and maintained to track projected highs, lows, and actuals for every aspect of the Tour. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a tour of this nature ramps up and ramps down. The part you see and hear is in the middle.

Anyway, the past week has been used in finishing up the accounting, uploading 600 tour pictures, editing the Tour Blogs, and repairing the truck. Also laundry, dry cleaning, email sorting, and merch inventory. This week I'll move into filing SOCAN performance reports and thank you notes, and will write up a final Blog for this Tour. I'll also be overhauling some gear, picking up a new laptop, paying my accountant, paying Revenue Canada, checking up on the Junos, and running in High Park. I gained 10 pounds on the tour- that part was not well planned! Note: bring the runners next Tour.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Big Road Blues- Goin' Home

Dave is around to my hotel by about 11:15 AM. We jump in the Caddy and go for brunch with Patti. Good food at some joint in Osbourne Village. After dropping Patti we head back to the hotel parking lot to clean out the tour van and re-pack my gear for air travel. The good news is that, upon close inspection, I see that the rental paperwork actually makes note of that little ripple in the bumper!! In other words, we're good to return this truck without fear. It's been a great little van. A Dodge Grand Caravan with sliding doors on each side, nice stereo, good cruise control, and pretty nice on gas. The heating controls for driver and passenger have been wonderful, and it's had all the go that we've needed to get half way across Canada and back. You can tell from the blog that neither Dave or myself are into minivans, but we learned to love this one. It was the perfect ride for this tour, and I was sorry to have to give it back.

We loaded all my gear into Dave's Caddy for the trip to the airport. Before setting out, Dave presented me with an old, off-white, lunch box sized case that said "Shure" on the outside. Sure enough- on the inside was a vintage PE55 mic. Wow! What a cool gift. I've always wanted one of these. Thanks, Dave, that was really kind. A quick handshake and I'm outside departures with all my gear in a cart. We've said it all. In the WestJet departure lounge I run into Digging Roots, a great band from Ontario. Raven tells me they are going back to Toronto after doing a few gigs in the Winnipeg area including the Casino. Cool work. I'm always glad to catch up with these folks. I'll see them again in a couple of hours as we wait at Oversize Baggage for our gear!

I'm the middle seat between an older woman (who weeps for the entire trip) and a crew-cut dude who is reading weapons brochures. Shit, this guy has got pictures of bombs and missiles and diagrams of their construction- and he's reading this stuff openly. If he wasn't so white they'd have him back in security with a flashlight up his privates. I can't believe he could bring this stuff through security. I guess they just look at dangerous stuff like microphones and guitars. Not a word is spoken between Winnipeg and Toronto.

Alasdair and Wendy met me at Toronto. After a big hug we go out for pizza. The bill, including two root beers, comes to $47 for a large pizza. Parking was $8. Welcome back to Toronto! I'll be missing those woodstoves I've enjoyed across the rest of Canada.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Times Changed High and Lonesome, Winnipeg, MB

It's over seven hours of driving today, with a time change thrown in make the trip even longer- so we're up and off early. Dave threw his misguided watch away last night- stomped it away, actually- so we are relying on my cell phone to give us the correct time. Amazing how they do that, isn't it? I tried to explain to Dave how his broken watch was actually more acurate after he had stomped on it than it was when it lost an hour every day, but he wasn't having any part of it. Instead we reviewed some of the better jokes collected over the tour.

Today, our last road day, we re-visited some of our favourite CDs. Tim O'Brian- all the way through two albums. The Staple Singers. Fred McDowell and Johnny Woods. We decide that Michael Jerome Brown sounds quite a bit like Tim O'Brian. Michael has been on a tour as well, but we've missed each other by days here and there across the west... Anyway, before we know it we are rolling into Winnipeg. One last, beautiful day, gone by in a flash.

We check into a room at the Best Western, not far from the venue. Dave's wife, Patti, comes down in The Caddy to meet us for dinner. It's Dave's treat tonight- both the hotel room and the dinner- and I am thankful. Ribs and a really nice suite. After dinner, Dave and I hang out at my room. Patti will meet us later at the show. We suit up. We look good. There's not much left to say, so we repeat ourselves. "It's been great!" "Sure has." "I could do another 60 dates right now!" "Me, too." This is the best kind of tour. The gigs have been great. The money has been great. But in the end... there's two good friends sitting in a hotel room wishing this thing would go on and on. Friendship, respect, adventure, memories. We've paid dues for many years to get here. And we've been grateful for every single moment of this Big Road Blues Tour. It's been a blast! Thank you all for your love and support.

Times Changed is a small, but funky establishment that serves as the roots music capital of Winnipeg. Big Dave has run a Sunday jam session here for over 20 years. This is his home club as the Silver Dollar has become mine. Owner John Scoles meets us at the door and has us set up in short order. He's done hundreds of shows here, so he's quick and has a good ear for the set up. Dave and I repair to the Green Room for a few minutes, and then I tour the bar and am treated to some decent scotch by the friendly barman. The place is filling up. The girl at the door keeps saying, "I'm so glad Big Dave is back!" Dave's kids show up, as does his Mom. She's over 90, and you'd never know it to see her dance. We had a great chat before and after the show.

The room is full. Somebody says the punk bands squeeze in more bodies- but I wouldn't want to be there. The room is full, so far as I am concerned! It's a loud, Saturday night crowd on one side of the room, and a listening, concert crowd on the other. We are, of course, well received. Dave and I played our best show of the tour- mainly for each other. I know I was just simply enjoying all the songs and parts that we have made up over the tour. We're a pretty damn good duo now. It was good from the start, but here, at the end, it's really good. It's special. The night ends all too soon, as we knew it would. I got Dave's Mom up to sing with us. They have recorded a duet for Dave's next album, so I was teasing her that she'd have to sing at the Juno's next year. My new pals Susan and Jean kept me entertained for a few more hours, while Dave returned home. A fine ending to a great run of shows. Dave and I will do brunch in the morning and wrap down the Big Road Blues Tour.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Moose Jaw, SK

This is how it looks on the road out here!
Not a long drive from Nokomis to Moose Jaw. I'm really glad to be playing Moose Jaw because I've never been here before and because it's got such a cool, Canadian name. These gigs carry a lot of weight in other parts of the world! Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon... Too cool. I'm in a bit of a panic today as I've noticed a little ripple in the back bumper of the rental van. Just a little ripple. I didn't hit anything, but I'm thinking somebody must of backed into the truck at some point. I didn't notice it before. I'm thinking how another rental company once charged me hundreds of dollars for a similar ripple. Dave is saying don't worry, they'll never notice. I'm thinking about the ways in which the universe seems to come up with to separate me from money. I try to put it out of my mind. I'll find out in a couple of days, and there is surely nothing I can do about it today. But it is a tiny, little ripple, very hard to notice. Maybe we'll be OK.

Moose Jaw was Dave's home for a few years when he was a kid, so we took a few minutes and toured his old stomping grounds. We took pics of the house where he used to live, and the church where his Dad used to preach. The visit brought back a lot of old memories for Dave, and I was happy to be along for the ride.

Here's a cool shot of Dave casting a long shadow on his past. "Send us your money- and say you BELIEVE!"

Jake's Saloon is down on River St., with a couple of other big old hotels. When we walk in there is country music cranked up on the jukebox. A couple of pool tables are busy. The video gambling terminals are also busy. It's a big room with signs on the walls that say things like "yee-haw, partner!" There is a huge dance floor in front of the small stage, and a battered PA system is piled on the floor, not connected. This could be an interesting night- like real work, not the sissy, soft seaters we've been playing for the last two months! We've got four hours to kill before soundcheck, so we head over to our hotel to sleep for a while. This is the place- Capones. Named for Al. I end up doing a merch inventory, and checking the books. I do this pretty much daily, with a different merch sheet for each venue, and I also keep detailed expense and income books. Receipts are filed, fuel expenses are calculated. I can run an Excel spreadsheet on just about any aspect of the Tour. All the sold out shows and merch sales have enabled this Tour to gross well beyond my original projections. A little luck and a little skill, and quite a few years of doing this. It's all teamwork.

Back for soundcheck to discover that the PA has been set up and is waiting for us. I bring in a couple of mics and stands, and after a quick strum we are pretty much in gear. The room is nearly empty, and Dave is not optimistic. But we've got a ten o'clock start here, so it's back to the hotel for a couple of hours. I'm noodling around on my National when Dave drops by with his. We trade off a few licks and chords. This is the first time, off stage, in two months that we've had time and energy to hang out and jam a little. Here's a cafe across from the Hotel. I'd like to buy this place and open a blues club in it. The neon sign out front "National Cafe" would be worth the price of the business. It's now a Chinese food joint, so no breakfast treats for Dave and I.

To our surprise the club is beginning to fill as we arrive. It's a friendly crowd and Danny, the owner, is playing DJ and setting the mood in the room. We hear Sonny Terry, Wolf, Harpdog Brown... a whole bunch of cool stuff. Just before showtime a bunch of pals from the Regina Delta Blues Association came walking in! Too cool! They'd driven to Moose Jaw to catch the show again! Red Beard and Dale are hard core! We've got a good crowd as we roll into our first set, and they appear to be listening. Dave and I are in "bar mode" anyway, speaking a bit less and wanking a bit more. The night goes well, and passes quickly. I end the night with an old Pearly Brown number, sung off- mic. We pack out, buy hot dogs from the cart outside and head back to our hotel.

The heater in my room is broken. It's over 90 degrees, so I turn the air conditioning on full blast. The two units will fight with one and other for the rest of the night. There's nothing but 50 channels of nothing on the TV. Sleep. There's only one show left in this Tour. It seems unbelievable.