Road Blog: Saturday September 09, 2023 - Toronto, ON
September 9, 2023
Saturday morning hit pretty hard as we hit the pavement at 8:30 after the late night at Barfly in Montreal. I was tallying up about 7 hours sleep for two days. We got some killer eggs Benedict (Florentine for the boys) and some coffee, said goodbye to Trixie and Kearns (the latter looking a little worse for the wear), and headed back west towards Toronto. As the sun beat in and floated across the sky I felt worse and worse, Inversely proportional to my relatively moderate intake the night before, then I realized the cause and vowed to never touch Canadian Club again. I picked up some Advil and a scratch off at an On Route and an hour later my headache was gone and I was $10 CAD richer.
We listened to Johnny Thunders and I kept my Canadian metal weekend theme alive by cranking Skid Row as we immersed ourselves into the brutal Toronto traffic. Jacob weathered the storm well, through the quagmire of humanity, and up to the corner of Dundas and Ossington, where we met Alex, our sound engineer at The Dakota Tavern. Waiting outside was our pal Woody, who I’ve known for close to 20 years now. He ran Mag Wheel Records and released my first solo album and the first Tucos 7”, and we always hook up whenever we make it to Toronto.
The Dakota is a joint I’ve been trying to crack since I met Woody, and big thanks go to Erika Werry for making it happen! It’s a really cool smaller basement bar, retro and very Canada, with barrel shaped stools and vinyl benched booths. Alex was exceptionally pleasant and professional, paying attention to every detail from band member’s names to stage plots and gear specs. We loaded in and soundchecked – the sound was fantastic, then headed out on foot to get some food before showtime. Around the corner from the Dakota sits The Lakeview Diner, an older restaurant we ate at after our show at The Painted Lady in 2018 (joined by Cloverdrive). Good diner food and drinks. My tuna melt with havarti on rye was right on.
Back at The Dakota Erika and her band had just finished souncheck and it was awesome to see her for the first time since at least 2017, if not earlier. I’m a huge fan boy of her and her awesome music, and glad to share a stage any time we possibly can. Jimmy Rose is playing pedal steel for her now, and he and I’d met on my first Canadian run 13 years ago tomorrow, when I opened for his band Jetset Motel in Wakefield, Quebec. I also met David Picco that night, who The Tucos would go on to do some touring with, and he showed up as Erika went on we always have a few laughs. He’s one of my favorite people and was soon introducing me to his friends as his protégé. Asshole ??
As much as I love the city and my friends who live there, and we were able to release a live album recorded there that I'm proud of, we haven’t always had the best of luck in Toronto, if I’m being honest. Some of the joints we’ve played have been a bit off the radar, and we usually leave town in the hole. Parking is a nightmare, lodging is tough, and it’s just more work than it’s worth for the most part. I knew The Dakota was the most legit of the places we’ve played and I had high hopes, but also knew that it was an early show on a night stacked with a multitude of options for fans of live music, so I kept my expectations in check. The night wasn’t incredible from a business perspective, but it wasn’t a disaster by any means, and the positives way outweighed the thin turnout.
Erika went on at 7 and played a fantastic set of her quirky, indie, rock tunes with her Americana-leaning trio of pedal steel, double bass and second acoustic behind her. We don’t always get to play with bands that I like this much, so it was worth the trip alone to see her set. We went on after and belted out 45 mins plus an encore for the good people who were there hootin’ and hollerin’ along. We cleared the stage for the late show, chatted it up with our friends as they drifted off into the night, loaded out, and headed towards home.
I took the wheel and got us out of the city and onto the 401 towards Detroit. I was fighting the nods a bit so it was time for Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. We stopped at a couple On Route service plazas for bio breaks and caffeine, and crossed the Detroit River around 2am. Customs was a bit intense – she took my keys and rummaged through our luggage a bit, but they never made us get out of the car or go into immigration. We dropped Gabriel Doman off in Dearborn, his Irish wolfhound Fiona anxiously awaiting his return from behind their front door, then back to my place in Plymouth where Jake and I unloaded the truck and Jake headed home to Ann Arbor to make up for a weekend of lost sleep.
Toronto and the Dakota Tavern were cool – we’ll look into getting back in there if they’ll have us, and I’ll keep an open mind about future shows in the city. THANKS to everyone there, especially Erika for making it all happen, and for being awesome.
Troopergirl22 wasn’t exactly waiting up by the time I was ready for bed sometime after 3am, but we had a nice little chat and she asked what the best part of the weekend was. Took me about two seconds to say that it was seeing my amazing friends – in London, Montreal, and Toronto. After 13 years of playing these cities regularly, we don’t always pack `em in, but we always have a great time and I cherish these relationships. THANKS to all of you who were there, and thanks to YOU for reading. Weekend after next we’re back at it with an Illinois-Three-Banger so watch this space for more adventures. xx