ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

THERE’S A MOLE IN MY BUCKET, DEAR LISA, DEAR LISA.

 Well you know your not in Kansas anymore when you wake up to this face staring at you in bed.

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Dad! You up? Dad! Dad! Dad! You up? You up? You up dad?  

Home for one night in my own bed then ready by 9am to hit the trail again for a show in Sarnia, Ontario. Sarnia is a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, and had a 2016 population of 71,594. It is the largest city on Lake Huron and in Lambton County. Sarnia is located on the eastern bank of the junction between the Upper and Lower Great Lakes where Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River, which forms the Canada–United States border, directly across from Port Huron, Michigan. 

First Nations peoples have lived, hunted, and travelled across the area for at least 10,000 years, as shown by archaeological evidence on Walpole Island. 10,000 years guys. Think about that. We truly are, ALL OF US, just immigrants, regardless how far you think your North American generations go back.

 As it is...... 

As it is...... 

About A.D. 796, these peoples emerged from an amalgamation of Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potowatami clans, and formed the Three Fires Confederacy, also called the Council of Three Fires. They were all speakers of Algonquian languages and also had connections through common elements of cultures. They developed a self-sufficient society where tasks and responsibilities were equally shared among all members.

 As it was....... 

As it was....... 

 Miss Long says, “No pictures! No pictures! SECURITY!!”  

Miss Long says, “No pictures! No pictures! SECURITY!!”  

Since we are all travelling from our own homes to this gig, it’s easier for us all to make our own way there, in our own vehicles. I picked Carmela, (our BG singer) up and she and I made the drive together. It’s was a three hour drive and as we chatted tons during which we reminisced a lot about the days of playing Sarnia and the surrounding area, when there was an abundance of bars, all with “live” entertainment, where patrons could see great bands week in and week out by just going to their local “watering-hole.” Carm spoke of the days of her own band, “The Carmela Long Band,” whereby, she would often be out this way, slogging it out, night after night in the bars. Our respective bands never crossed paths back in the day but I will tell you two things about Carm. She is one of THE  BEST vocalists I have ever worked with, AND one of the most respected vocalists that the city of Toronto has ever produced and I have NEVER known a vocalist who knows as many musicians as she does. It’s crazy! So many of them have played for her in her years of performing and they love and respect her so much that it’s like “old-home-week” every time we run into one of them. Airports, bus stops, bars, gigs, funerals, “Hey Carm, Hey Bob,” anyway, back to the bar days. Let’s be honest, they weren’t the most “glamorous” of places and as for the rooms that went along with them? Holy shit! Half the time you were afraid to undress to get into the beds.

 Circa 1977 .....the rooms weren’t the most glamorous .....and who is THAT guy?     Sometimes you had to hope that the rodents would get the hint and move out. If they didn’t, you were apt to get an under-the-pillow-surprise during the night. One time Wayne and I had to share the same bed in a shithole up in Temagami, Ontario. At one point I felt movement under the pillow but what the fuck, I was too tired to care. In the morning Wayne and I awakened to find a dead “mole” under the pillow.     

Circa 1977 .....the rooms weren’t the most glamorous .....and who is THAT guy?  

Sometimes you had to hope that the rodents would get the hint and move out. If they didn’t, you were apt to get an under-the-pillow-surprise during the night. One time Wayne and I had to share the same bed in a shithole up in Temagami, Ontario. At one point I felt movement under the pillow but what the fuck, I was too tired to care. In the morning Wayne and I awakened to find a dead “mole” under the pillow. 

 

 “Hey lads, can you move over? I am having trouble breathing!”  

“Hey lads, can you move over? I am having trouble breathing!”  

These were the days of doing 3 x 45min sets of covers (bar owners wanted NOTHING to do with originals) and in the province of Quebec, you had to do FIVE x 45mins sets, AND it was SEVEN nights a week not six. A famous haunt that my first band ONYX used to play, was a huge club called The Electric Circle. We had already played the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & Saturday ...count that at 5x45min sets, holy shit, that’s THIRTY SETS @ 45 mins per = 22.5 hrs if my math is correct AND we still had five sets to do on the Sunday, PLUS the fact, our next gig was the very next evening, Monday, in Newmarket, Ontario, a good 10hrs in those days in our old beat up van. First song, first set, of this last Sunday show and I hear Wayne yell, “ALAN!!!” As I turn around, the side of my face gets CLOBBERED with a huge lighting rack that our lighting tech had failed to secure properly. I get thumped and fall to the floor. Crowd cheers!!! (they think this is part of the show.) I get back up and attempt to sing, “ ARRRBY FRACKELTY ....FUCK!!” and I stagger and fall. I end up in a French hospital being told in broken English, “You stay! Must stay! Dangereux!!” Basically they were saying, “Your face is fucked and we need to keep you here for observation. If you leave, you’re on your own bud and it could be dangerous if your brain bleeds.”

I had been taught a few chords on guitar around 1974 by a guy called a Martin Ridgely. We then went on to duet together at parties and weddings etc Then I was approached by a scruffy bunch of characters in a band called ONYX. They had heard about my voice and wanted to know if I would audition for them. From that audition I was now officially a starving musician, playing the shittiest of shitholes, getting knocked out on stage, in 1970’s Quebec......bliss! 

 

 

 One of the earliest known shots of me singing for ONYX.

One of the earliest known shots of me singing for ONYX.

Needless to say, “the show must go on” and all that jazz and I went back to the club. The last set had been a disaster. The band knew but one song without me, ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ and they had tried doing an extended 48 min version of that until the drugs wore off the audience and they got booed off the stage! Ahhhhh, Rock’n’Roll, ya gotta luv it! We got our gear packed up, our arses in the van, and we made it to Newmarket and did our show as scheduled the next evening, me with a face like a balloon wearing dark glasses. 

Got to Sarnia about an hour before needed for soundcheck. Carm and I had a fairly horrible lunch (eating of the road is such a crapshoot) before heading over to the theatre. During soundcheck an old friend of mine couldn’t believe that he had come home from Jamaica and was visiting friends in Sarnia, only to find out his old pal Alan and Glass Tiger were playing in town.

 The Imperial Theatre, Sarnia. 

The Imperial Theatre, Sarnia. 

We couldn’t believe our luck, not having seen each other in years. I hit him up with tickets and passes and headed back to hotel for my ritual warm soak or steaming shower to relax but also warm up the voice. 

When it comes to men’s cologne I take great pride in smelling. 😂 I mean smell me, am I smelly? 😂 Seriously, it’s so funny that the single most consistent compliment I EVER get from people, is, “You smell good!” I mean it’s so constant it’s hilarious. My band mates are all used to it by now and I am forever getting hit up by others to divulge what I am wearing. Male or female, they compliment, then ask what I am wearing. I of course don’t divulge it which drives them crazy. Just the other day my pal Tanika Charles, another singer sent me this ; 

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Basically she is saying, “Hey bud! What’s your stink?”

Many of them know that I am a Tom Ford guy. Have been for years, and now you know. But it’s the combo’s that do it 😉 the subtle fragrances that blend together are perfect and I just don’t spray and tell. HOWEVER, I am willing to divulge the newest one I received as part of my fab birthday prezzies when I returned home ..... this cologne is FUCKING FABULOUS!!! It’s brand new from T.F. And I love it....your guy will too ladies and gents. It’s “earthy and woody” it’s very musky and masculine, and I highly recommend it. Christmas Prezzie,,🎄 gang!! 

 I shit you not.......that is the name of it.  

I shit you not.......that is the name of it.  

 Killer guitarist, Russell Gray. 

Killer guitarist, Russell Gray. 

We hit the stage around 8pm and tonight was the rock show format, not the acoustic show. It felt good just to get up there and rock out for 90 straight minutes as opposed to 2x45’s. Al Connelly was under the weather for this one and unable to perform, but our “BIG RUSS” (Russell Gray) filled in admirably. We missed you Al, get better for Saturday please! 

The Sarnia crowd was great and we all had a blast together. They gave us a wonderful encore and of course we obliged.  

Some warm pizza and a cold beer in the dressing room, then out to meet some guests and those amazing folk who signed up to support CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.) THANK YOU GUYS! Take the “I” out of illness and insert “We” .....

 Man it’s been a long time..... 

Man it’s been a long time..... 

Back to hotel and joined the band for a chat and a nightcap. Lobby call is 8:30a.m. for the drive home to Toronto.

Highgate, Ontario, you’re next.....goodnight all, until that time.