Sunday, August 31, 2014

Granville Island Slam

Rain filling the gutters as it will do in Vancouver. It's a hard rain falling today, and I'm thinking it's a good thing I didn't wash the car yesterday, and I'm also thinking that this rain will wash down the dust. I've had nearly two weeks of perfect weather on the British Columbia coast. Hardly a drop of rain. I know it is needed: the spectacular sunsets are probably a result of the many forest fires through Washington state, British Columbia, and perhaps points even further away. If they were dancing for rain, it finally came today.

I've been looking forward to this last west coast date. It is supposed to be a heavily booked blues/jazz brunch, in a pretty upscale place on the water. I'm warned to be there on time, start on time, end on time. The place is certainly busy when I arrive. Granville Island. Like Coney Island, only Vancouver style. More upscale with (arguably) a better view. When the manager finds time to speak to me I'm told that they no longer have a PA system, and that they'd like me to "set up" on a tall chair at the bar. This I do, noticing that the big, busy room of diners sounds like a school cafeteria. It's loud in here! But I'm loud, too. And I play a National. Two 60 minute sets with a 30 minute break between them.

Early into my first set I notice that no one is listening. Not only that, but they probably can't hear anyway. They sure don't look like a bunch of folks who have come out to hear some blues with their brunch. By the third song a manager has edged up to me... Would it be possible for me to play more quietly? There's a man at a nearby table who has a hearing problem. A song or two later... Please, you are still bothering the man. I finish up the first hour mouthing the words to songs, playing on my little Stella. No one seems to notice that I'm there. The managers smile at me "nice job!" None of the waitresses will make eye contact with me as they rush by. I take a break, and am fed a truly wonderful lunch- a world class salmon chowder leading the way.

Set two starts with another noise complaint. It's a good thing I'm at the long end of a huge noisy room without a PA. I settle in to a quiet, instrumental vamp on Smokestack Lightning- only to be interrupted by an important looking man who asks me if I know any "good songs" and informs me that what I'm playing is "depressing and awful." The guy with the hearing problem is still in the house, so I finish the set with a 45 minute instrumental medley of ragtime, jug band guitar. My set is exactly 60 minutes long. I finish exactly on time.

The rain has gone. Elsewhere on the Island there is art taking place. A cement plant on the corner of the Island has sponsored an installation...

Definitely the coolest cement truck on the coast...

Here's the view from the water outside of the Market area. It's all water, mountains, big sky, big city. My other shows have been more fun than today's, but I'm glad to have had a gig today anyway. This Tour needs to work pretty much every day. Sometimes work is fun, and sometimes work is work. But work is always good.

My reward is a stop at Vancouver's Stanley Park, where I run the sea wall. It's 10 km and one of North America's great urban runs. I don't need to work tonight, so I can be tired if I want! I'm slower this year than last- but I finish the run, and nobody passes me either!

The Lincoln is pointed east over the Lion's Gate Bridge into West Vancouver. This is my parting view as I leave Vancouver. Despite today's grinder, it has been a great stay. I've got so many wonderful friends and fans on this coast, and they share this magic land with me. Thanks so much. Now on to Alberta.

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