Road Blog: Friday September 06, 2019 - Montréal, QC
September 6, 2019
We left our retro Hotwire hotel in Markham, Ontario around 10am and headed east towards Montreal, under beautiful blue skies, stopping only for coffee and a couple pee breaks. Gabriel was driving and nursing a stiff knee, I was in the back, and Bob was riding shotgun. We listened to Tinted Windows, Simon Townshend, Fishbone, and to the boy’s dismay, the new Taylor Swift record, among other things. I’m trying to like the new TS, but it’s a lot of work. There are a few moments of that record that really grab me, with great hooks, production, and songwriting, but most of it just seems so formulaic and generic, like it could just as easy be on a Jusitn Beiber or Katy Perry record, and those songs lose me pretty quickly. I haven’t thrown in the towel on it yet, but I can see myself sticking with select tracks and sending the others off to some forgotten folder on an external hard drive gathering dust under my desk. Still, it was kinda fun getting outside our box for a bit.
We got to our Airbnb, parked the van, and tortured Gabe with four flights of stairs up to the apartment. I’ve taken to calling him Gimpy, and we’ve been occasionally been calling Bob Bert, but I’m not even sure how that started. Anyhow, it’s a nice place with 3 bedrooms and a back balcony, all for less than the price of a hotel room. There are loud metro trains flying by every few minutes, but it’s not really much of a bother. We chilled for about an hour or so. I checked in with TrooperGirl22 back home, and all seems to be well on the other side of the border. Then it was back into the van and we headed towards Barfly. As is custom, we put on The Nils and cranked it for the ride. We got rock star parking about 100 feet from the front door of the bar, loaded in, said hi to Anthony, the owner and a dear friend for a few years now, ordered beers, and chatted with the bartender for a few.
Barfly sits on Rue St. Laurent, the main cultural drag of Montreal, and there are a lot of food options. I’ve got a couple favorites, but we’re always looking for something new so we settled on a Portuguese chicken joint called Rotisserie Portugalia. Bob got the Chourico sandwich and Gabe and I each got ½ chicken, spicy. We also split small plates of sardines and spicy ribs. The food was excellent and it’s a place I’ll definitely make it back to again.
Barfly is one of my favorite places to play. I know I probably say that about a lot of places, but it’s up there with the state of Kentucky and our home town of Detroit at the top of the list. For the last several years we’ve been invited by my good pal Eric Kearns to play the draft party for his Hangover Golf tournament. There’s always a good crowd and plenty of familiar faces in attendance. It’s a smaller place with a small stage in the back and a pool table in the front, and a bar along one side and high-top tables along the other. There’s Montreal Canadiens de Montréal memorabilia all over one wall and rock and roll posters on the other, including an old Nils poster and some other photos of Alex Soria and The Nils. If you know me, or you’ve read my previous blogs from Montreal over the years, you know about The Nils and what they mean to me. If not, Google `em please. I was able to get caught up with a lot of friends – Anthony, John Campbell, Ilse Gantois, Curt Stitch, Dave Lazar, and Gwendo Lyn, just to name a few. Wonderful people, and great to see them all again.
It’s hard to stay focused on the show with so many friends there, but we managed to get set up, then they did the draft, then we played for about 45 minutes or a little more. I could tell right off that we were hitting our stride and after a couple adjustments we settled in for what ended up probably being the best set we’ve played with this lineup to date. There were some hiccups here and there, but overall it was fun and loose and spirited and felt great. The crowd was into it, hootin’ & a’hollerin’, and we couldn’t have asked for more. After us, Eric’s band Grain Elevator No. 5 went on. This was a reunion show for them, after a 10+ year hiatus. Eric was using my rig, which is not something I’d generally be open to, but exceptions are made for good friends, and it was cool to hear it from the audience. I made some subtle adjustments to the volume and tone as they played and really enjoyed that part of it. The band was awesome – they sounded great, played really well, and had great songs behind them. We were right up front, loving every minute of it.
After the set we loaded out, said our goodbyes, and headed up to another Montreal tradition – St-Viateur Bagel Shop. It’s odd that the fourth Tuco - Karen Jacobsen - The GPS Girl (our GPS) - can never find this address, but we got there using my phone. We got a dozen bagels, some locks, and cream cheese to go. It smelled great, the bakers were a little salty, but smiling and joking, and it was cool to take Bob there for the first time. Somewhere along the way we had to pull over in the city so Bob could find a discreet place to pee, amid empty promises that it would never happen again. We laughed. It was that kind of night.
Back at the AirBnB we got into our leftovers from
The Portuguese place and one of the bottles we’d picked up at the LCBO in Toronto. Lights out around 3am, ears ringing, bellies at capacity, heads spinning, and hearts full.
7am came early, but I just can’t sleep in, regardless of what time I crashed out or what the circumstances were the night before. I got up, worked on the blog, had a cup of freeze dried coffee, and went for a run. I came back to a toasted bagel with cream cheese and locks courtesy of Gabriel. It was glorious.
Once again, Montreal did not disappoint. I love my friends here and I feel so lucky to get to come here every September and see them and play at Barfly and experience the culture. Already looking forward to Hungover Golf Draft Party 2020!
Tonight we’ll wrap this run up in Oshawa, a new city for us, at the Atria with Rich With Sin, Dead In Reno and Shannon Grieveson. Xo