RPM Powerfest & Media Weekend

Well here we are once again; several weeks after the fact, and I’m just getting around to blogging about our weekend at Grand Bend Motorplex.  I do have a viable excuse this time around, as we have been very busy with gigging pretty well straight through the end of June and halfway through July.

On top of being one of the most unique performances we’ve ever given, it also signified the start of our summer season, being the first of six outdoor gigs over the next few months.

We arrived Friday afternoon to our separate locations within Grand Bend; Samantha, myself and our friends to a rented cottage a block off the main drag and five blocks from the beach, Andy and his wife to a nearby hotel and Les and the members of Unanimous Maybe and Team Deadly to the free camping area provided at the Motorplex.

By the time I had touched base with the other guys and headed down to check things out at the track, most of the gear was already set up and we were waiting on the hydro.  After walking around the grounds to check out the competitors and vendors, we settled on watching the trials from the VIP beer gardens.

I had never been to a racetrack before, let alone a drag strip.  I was in for a treat; the stage and beer gardens were right next to the starting line, which is where we spent 90% of our time.   I came prepped with earplugs, knowing it was going to be loud.  Now, I’ve been playing onstage and watching bands for over 10 years, but I had no idea what loud was until the night of Friday, June 25th, 2010.

The noise was deafening and coming from not one, but two sources simultaneously: both the engines and the tires as dragsters, hot rods, motorcycles and even snowmobiles (no tires there,  just treads) bolted down the strip.  Not only were these sights and sounds to behold, but these mechanical masterpieces also put your nostrils to the test with the piercing scent of burnt rubber.

After downing a few beers and watching several trial runs, it was clear that we weren’t going to get our hydro anytime soon, so we parted ways for the evening and set about exploring the town with the few daylight hours that remained.

After a comfortable and air conditioned sleep, I awoke and celebrated the day by cracking open a breakfast beer and relaxing on the porch.  I was on vacation, after all.  Once breakfast was out of the way, those of us at the cottage made our way down to the beach for a swim.  Not a bad way to start a Saturday.

I made my way to the Motorplex in the early afternoon to see where set-up was at, since I had yet to hear from anyone about a meeting time.  I arrived to find most of the main system ready to go with Andy working on getting his kit up.

I hauled my gear into the VIP area and began my set-up, since BarCode would be starting the show.  Now, there’s an interesting little side story that goes along with the next few minutes of our present story…

Several weeks ago after our gig at the Liquid Lounge, I failed to do a dummy check and ended up leaving my canvas bag behind, which contains all of my patch cords, XLR cables, pedals and microphone.   Since we didn’t practice on the Sunday, I failed to notice until I arrived to set-up at our show at the Oxford Circus the following weekend.

I sped over to the Lounge to see if it was still kicking around, but the folks who were working the night of our show did not come in until 10pm that night, so I was S.O.L.  Luckily, Jr. was able to loan me some cables and a mic.  I hopped in Monty and jetted back over a second time on our first set break.  Huzzah!  A hurried inspection under behind some empty beer cases under the counter turned up the missing gig bag.

Good news, or so I thought at the time.

Since we already had the extra mic and cords set up, like an idiot, I didn’t bother to check the ‘little green bag’ to make sure all of its contents were intact.

Flash forward 3 weeks later to Grand Bend.  I open the flap and begin rummaging in there, only to find (technically, not find) that my mic and two XLR cables are missing.  Once again, it was Les to the rescue with extra gear, while I tried to wash the metaphorical egg off of my face with a couple of literal beers.

With everything ready to go, all there was left to do was crank out some tunes and impress the racers and crews that’d began enjoying the roast pig and salads from the ‘hambulance’.  As the last cars made their way down the track, we hit ’em just as hard and just as fast with ‘Too Little Too Late’.

Our setlist was entirely improvised and included some special guests; Jenny Friesen Pomerleau who joined us to sing ‘These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ and Jessica Townson, who played June Carter to my Johnny Cash on  the always popular ‘Jackson’.

The great  thing about BarCode is how we can do a show of even this calibre and completely make up the setlist as we go along; we just have that much material that we’re comfortable with.

As we performed, Richie handed out our business cards, which I may have gone a little overboard with by ordering 1,000 at the printers.  At least I’ve got them if I need them and they now have our website included on the reverse.

Unanimous Maybe took to the stage after us, churning out a set of their fantastic originals, including ‘Who Ordered the Sunshine?’, ‘Sunday Best’ and one or two covers.  There’s such an intense energy about this band, especially when all four come together at the mics to tackle some harmony work.

And completely obliterating any remnants of hearing you may have had left was the awesome Team Deadly, which features both Les and Andy doing what it is they do best (or one of the things) and the unbelievable guitar talents of Red LaForme.   These guys are as tight as tight can get, with Red manipulating the axe in ways other guitarists can only imagine.

And of course, I don’t need to tell you how incredible Les and Andy both are.  These two can easily slip into the groove of any genre of music, make it their own and leave you with the impression that they’ve been playing it for years.  This is one of the reasons it’s such a pleasure sharing the stage with them.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible experience.  The music, the company, the venue and just the overall feeling of being in ‘the Bend’.  It was unfortunate that I had to spend my earnings on replacing my Shure SM58 and a few cables, but a lesson learned.

On the way out of town on Sunday, I stopped at four or five trailer parks and dropped off some business cards with the hopes of securing some shows in the Grand Bend area for the Summer of 2011.

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