Dear Canada Blog # 45 April 9th 2018.
Check out was noon but hotel staff were kind enough to store our bags while we went for lunch at WALDO’S in the “Market District”of London. The food was excellent and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
The drive to Hamilton was a painless 1hr 40mins and since we had no hotel requirements ( we are driving home after show ) we went straight to the venue and hung out in our dressing room backstage.
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. An industrialized city, nicknamed, “Steeltown” it has a population of 536,917, and a metropolitan population of 747,545. During the War of 1812, British regulars and Canadian militia defeated invading American troops at the Battle of Stoney Creek, fought in what is now a park in eastern Hamilton.
As a musician, I have a long history with Hamilton. Back in my early days it had some of the toughest bars, filled with the toughest humans, any band could have thrust upon them as their audience. If I said there were many nights of absolute bedlam and mayhem I would be lying, due to the fact that EVERY NIGHT was absolute bedlam and mayhem. Hells Angels, drunken steelworkers, gangs of musclemen dudes, The “Parkdale Boys,” you name it, it was sheer terror.
Now this is the 70’s, and there were no fancy high tech video games as of yet. Pac Man wasn’t even invented for goodness sake and in fact, Pong ( google THAT one kids, lol ) was considered THE high tech video game of the day 😂 and it was only a simple two- dimensional paddle game created by a man called Allan Alcorn for the Atari company. Remember what it felt like to play it? How long it took after you played your shot for it to reach your opponents paddle and come back to you? It was like “ping” ....take a bite of your club sandwich, down a coke and...”pong”.....get a dime out, call home, speak to your mum....”ping”...go for a pee, wash your hands, fix your hair and...”pong”...yes kids welcome to the world of the 70’s!!!
“See that guy over there? says the giant grizzly-bear-man on the pinball machine. It was obvious he wasn’t talking to anyone else but me. “What guy,” I answered. Without taking his hands off the paddle-buttons on each side of the machine he motioned with his head,“THAT guy!” I looked over to see what was basically a giant head, attached to giant shoulders, no neck, and a chest the size of my little Corvair car, sitting holding court with a bunch of men that looked like “alien grave robbers.” His face was covered in gouges and scars that criss-crossed along his cheeks and chin and forehead. “Yeah, that guy, said the pinball monster. That guy is THE TOUGHEST GUY IN ALL OF HAMILTON.” Admiration is not what was tickling my sphincter at that precise moment. “Really?,” i mustered up ( should I have said,“That’s nice?) “Yeah, he just got out of jail this morning. He bit a guy’s ear, clean off, right here in this bar.” “That’s nice,” WHAT? Now I say it?? “Yeah he did 3 months but you know what else he did?” Oh, bliss, I can’t wait to hear what else the giant creature from the Black Lagoon did, to the man who’s ear he removed with his teeth! “What?” I mustered............ “HE KEPT IT!” “Kept what?” I asked. “He kept the dude’s ear.....Still has it!” Well now...isn’t that special? 😳😳
He, as I said, was playing pinball. A game that Wayne and I adored but could not always afford to play. It was a big deal if we had some extra quarters in our pockets to play and it was an even BIGGER DEAL if we managed to rack up some great scores that would give us “free” games. “Hey man, I gotta pee real bad, says King Kong to me. Slide in here and keep my game going for me.” Oh shit, is it not time to back on and play our next set? “Yeah sure, ok,” I said, as I slid in there and the giant removed his hands from the buttons controlling the flappers inside the machine. All I could think was, “ Don’t fuck this up! Don’t lose this ball.” But here’s the killer. When lurch said, “ I gotta pee real bad.” I thought as anyone would, that it meant, “I gotta pee real bad...IN THE TOILET!” But no, Dear Canada, you’d be wrong. He simply whipped out his trump and peed where the back of the machine and the wall met, never skipping a beat, as nonchalant as you’d like, still talking away. “Hey, you’re good at this!” he said cheerfully as he continued urinating for all who cared to witness. He finished his business, and made the motion for me to hand over the paddles once again. “Well I gotta go now, I said. We have another set to do.” “Great, says the monster. You guys fucking rock! All the boys here love you. Let me know if anyone bothers you. We’ll talk to them. They won’t bother you.” Ahhhhhh Hamilton, the memories, Hopefully tonight, everyone will keep their ears on.😂
Had a meet and greet with about 30 clients from the Investor’s Group. You guys know the routine by now. Short speech, photo’s, autographs, little mingle time, then back to the dressing room to dress and warm up my voice.
Beautiful theatre and sold out as usual for Johnny. What a great, loyal, following he has.
Hit the stage at our usual time and rocked out. Audience LOVED the duet between Johnny and I on “Wae Yer Family,” but they are starting to go crazy when we lead into Flower Of Scotland. Johnny dedicated that moment to a guy called, “Tam” who was his football ( soccer) coach as a lad when he first came over from Scotland.
Mine of Sam’s brothers and one of Al’s sons visited us backstage to say hello but we got out of there well before the crowd rushed from Johnny’s remaining show and on the highway. I was at my own front door and in my bed by 11:30pm. Tomorrow is a scheduled day off for the tour, BUT....I am doing a private gig of performance and speaking, in Oshawa, Ontario.
So Goodnight Dear Canada, until tomorrow~Alan