Road Blog: Friday September 07, 2018 - Montréal, QC
September 7, 2018
We got an early start out of the Motel 6 south of Toronto, meeting at the van at 9am. Patrick was at the wheel, David was shotgun, and I was in the back as Dave played the Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson solo albums and regaled us in a string of facts and stories about the logistics and events around them. I got caught up on some work and once we got past Toronto we stopped for coffee and provisions before hitting that long, lonesome stretch of the 401 towards Montreal. We hit the Quebec line around 4pm and Patty deviously spewed some nonsense about some emails he had to get caught up on, so I took the wheel and spent the next 90 minutes crawling 16 miles in bumper-to-bumper Montreal gridlock. Thanks buddy. We checked in to our AirBnB, which is a basement apartment in the Parc Olympique neighborhood of Montreal – a nice area with nearby parks and a safe spot for the van. We got to enjoy an hour of downtime to decompress from the drive and get ready for the show, but before long it was back into the van and heading towards Rue Saint Laurent and Barfly.
Barfly is one of my top favorite places to play, but it's certainly not because of the logistics. The traffic and parking near there is brutal. It sits on the main drag of the city and we've often spent literally 40 minutes looking for parking and ending up blocks and blocks away. Last night, however, the parking gods shone mercy and we were right out front. We loaded in, said hey to the owner Anthony, who's a dear friend, set up, and went out to get some food. There are a lot of great options right near the bar, one of which is a Jerk Chicken place, but we decided to go with Pitarifique, which is on the corner of the block, because they had a more diverse menu and damn good poutine, something Dave had never tried. We had a great dinner, Dave and I each got Poutine, Patty got a salad, and we all left happy. We walked up and down the street for a while, watching the people, checking out the sites, and even stopping into a vintage store where I passed on a cool western shirt that was just a little short, Patty passed on a leather jacket, and Dave passed on a denim jacket.
Barfly is a smaller venue with a short stage at the back, some high-tops on one side and a bar on the other. Anthony has his seat against the bar closest to the front door and he sits there spinning yarns, arms flailing, La bière St-Ambroise in one hand. What it lacks in pristine sound, ample space to stow gear, and beautiful acoustics it more than makes up for in rock and roll charm and music-loving beautiful people who are there to support bands. We were there to play my good friend Eric' kickoff party and draft for his Hungover Golf Tournament, an event we've now done three times. I've known Eric for about 8 years now, met him through my buddy Woody, and somehow, it all comes down to our mutual love for the music of ALEX SORIA - Musculação e Personal and The Nils, who I never knew, but they all did. Barfly was Alex' favorite place, and I name-check him in our song Bottled Regrets. I had the usual spent-too-much-time-drinking-and-talking-not-enough-time-setting-up issues of amps not plugged in and pedals not working, but we eventually started playing and had a blast. It was a great crowd, engaged, hooting-and-hollering, calling out requests. It was also hot and sticky, but just the way a good rock show should be. We played for about an hour, then watched the next band Half Measures, who we hadn't met before, play. They were awesome! Their singer Amanda Bechard really belted it out and Scott Mucklow, their guitarist, had great tone. They do great original songs, play their hearts out, and they're good people. We've got some new friends in the city!
It was a little overwhelming to see so many people I don't get to see often enough. My old pals Sylvain and Elaine traveled in from Trois Riveres for the show, and it was great to get caught up with them. My buddy Brooks was in town from Texas, so he came and set up camp at the bar (as he does) and held court all night. Dave Lazar, Curt Stitch, John Campbell, on and on, so many good people. We loaded out around 1am, slammed one last whiskey, said our goodbyes, poured Brooks in the back of the van, and headed over to St-Viateur Bagel Shop – a sort of famous 24-hour bagel place not far from Barfly. We loaded up on poppy seed and sesame seed bagels and cream cheese, sent Brooks off in an Uber, and headed back to the AirBnB. We inhaled a bagel or two and crashed out sometime after 2:30am. What a great night at Barfly – so much fun, so many good people and a new band we love.
This morning I rolled over around 8am and tossed and turned till about 9. Got up, stretched out and went out for a run. It's a cool morning here, the first real taste of Fall that I've seen. Patty went out about an hour before me and warned me of the cold, and also to avoid the botanical garden that cost $12 to get in. So what did I do? Ran straight into the botanical garden, music blasting in my earbuds, oblivious to the poor girl chasing me down the path trying to explain that I really should be running in the adjacent park. Damn tourists. So I apologized and did a lap around the park, the eastern tip of which ends up at the Olympic Tower, built for the `76 Olympics. There was a small flock of sheep grazing near that end of the park, and I grabbed a photo before heading back towards the apartment, stopping at the French café where Dave and Patty were drinking coffee and having a bite.
Today we're off to Cornwall, Ontario, where we'll play tonight. Three sets at Lola's Pub and Grub. It's a new city for us, and we're looking forward to checking it out. But Goddamn Montreal is such a special place for us and we love Barfly and all the good people here. Xoxo