Quote of the day:
“It sounds like the van is playing ‘Hot For Teacher.'”
– Dan Ball’s famous last words
Sunday, November 20th, 10:00 am, Winnipeg
The road through Manitoba is never really that forgiving. It’s jagged, long, desolate, fraught with night dangers, which I have yet to, and hopefully, will never encounter. It’s a beautiful piece of Canada, but the 9 hour drive to Thunder Bay is never something you truly look forward to, even if you say it is and try to be relentlessly positive, like me on this tour. I won’t lie, I’m a pretty bitter guy most of the time, all the time really, just ask my friends, but it never stops me from exhuming some good cheer once in awhile, when it is needed, and I think it’s something that pisses off the boys in my band the most, knowing how I really feel about a situation, brimming with pessimism, but still refusing to give it up when I know that the day is going to be a long one. The best you can do is leave Winnipeg early enough so you can stop frequently and be happy with the drive, and if something happens while en-route to Thunder Bay, say, a piece of your van starts falling off while simultaneously having a heart attack because you think someone has left the back door open and you almost run over your bass player while investigating, you’ll have time to deal with it. And that will be the time when your positivity shits the bed.
The van starts making a rhythmic thumping sound. At first we can’t pin-point where it comes from, the sound of the engine and the wind howling past us makes it difficult, but something is definitely up. Lewis perks up and yells “The f***king back door is open!” We slam on the brakes into a well-timed rest area, barely off the road and jump out into the snow. False alarm. It was just rattling and half-closed. We take a look under the van to see what the cause of the sound was and we find a piece of metal jutting out from under the exhaust system. Dan decides to take a closer look and crouches in front of the van. At this point Tyson isn’t even in park so he lurches forward to get further off the road. Dan moves faster than I’ve ever seen, jumping up and falling over backwards. Tyson re-iterates the seriousness of what could have just happened and honks at Dan. Dan shrugs. I can see the headlines now “Rock and Roll bassist Dan Ball, 25, dies when run over by his own band/foul play not suspected.” A close call, for sure.
8:00 pm, Thunder Bay
We manage to pry off the piece of metal, and after spending 10 minutes looking very confused and worried, we determine it is a shield for the catalytic converter, and is in fact NOT a flux capacitor. We continue on to Thunder Bay. The weather holds up the entire way and we make minimal stops, once for KFC, a mistake, and another for gas. A Sunday night in Thunder Bay is definitely not the most happening, or open for business, time of the week for the town, but we manage to source out some wifi, the forever ongoing passion. We need it to live, much like calcium or corrective lenses. The Black Pirate Pub finally opens and we load in quickly and prepare for a relaxing evening; a Sunday night birthday party show for our pal Joey, and also, a favour done by our long-time friend and ally, Tim Albertson. He’s a champion and is always there to help us out of a jam. Tim and Joey open the show with acoustic covers of Justin Beiber, Faber Drive and other various pop delicacies. A local band called “Eject!” also plays a set for Joey’s birthday. It sounds like the love-child between Blink 182 and Propagandhi, which pleases me. Our set is short and sweet, the way we like it. We are pleasantly surprised to see that 40 or so locals have come out on a Sunday night for the show, and also, the 6 dollar steins of beer equivalent to 3/4 of a pitcher, would be my guess. Some sketchy characters eye up our van the entire evening, even when we are loading out. The same guy asks me for smokes 5 times in half an hour after I give him one, and another guy asks me how much all of our gear is worth. I tell him “A fortune!” then tell him to be on his merry, in my own, off-colour way, of course. We spend the night at Tim’s with his dogs, out of town, where it is warm, and safe, and the wifi is free and plentiful.