Thursday, January 11, 2007

First weekend

First Friday

On the night of Friday Jan. 11th, my co-worker and I did a little crawl around Topeka -- comedy night at Jeremiah Bullfrog's where the chicken wings were awesome and where we saw an up and comer comedian who was pretty darn funny. I bought his DVD for good karma because, I liked the show, it was good. Then we were going to check out a live band, but the bar they were playing in looked a bit rough for our tastes, so we drove on by. Being the Newfie she is, she suggested we head to a local Irish pub, to which I obliged. We had some food and that's when I discovered Rich Stevenson, also known as "The Irish Rebel".

Rich has a slight southern accent but can sound Irish on a dime. He played a pile of Irish songs on his Gibson acoustic guitar. My co-worker knew most of the songs, probably sings them in her sleep, but I knew maybe two of them, reminiscing about my days at the Rose n Crown in Edmonton singing along with Don Johnston (not the Miami Vice guy) and the "All Virgin Choir" (the regular patrons who sat around his make-shift grand piano).

Rich then pulled out what looked like bagpipes but without the blowing and it was higher pitched. The lonely distant sounds emanating from this beautiful traditional instrument reminded me of a few Braveheart and Titanic scenes, but as this Irish Rebel moved his fingers along, the sound waves were becoming unique and personal to me--a consistent familiar melody but a new song to hold onto. In listening, the music got me a little choked up, thinking about home and being far from it, but excited in not knowing who I'd meet, much like my grandfather did when he left Ukraine in his 20's and immigrated to Canada, not knowing a word of English, or knowing anyone. How scary that must have been. My current trip can't even compare.

Upon leaving the pub, Rich introduced himself to us and we mentioned we were from Canada. He was very friendly and asked us to return sometime soon. "Soon" for me would be three weeks later on my own as my co-worker headed back to Newfoundland in a week.

First Saturday

First Saturday Prior to arriving, I had made arrangements with a fellow Mason who lives in Kansas City (KC), and who I've conversed with on an online Masonic community since a couple years ago. I drove into town in the afternoon and he had invited several of his lodge brothers, including the Grand Secretary and Assistant Grand Secretary of Kansas. We had a few beers and all headed out for dinner, to which I ordered, yep, you guess it, KC strip! Upon meeting my fellow Mason in person, I knew right away that we'd be close friends. Although only a few years older, we have a tonne in common, with our political, religious, and philosophical views pretty much in synch. We own many of the same Masonic books so I knew we'd have lots to talk about. Newly single, I also knew he'd be a partner in crime on nights on the town.

After dinner, a few of us headed to a local bar where a live band was playing and where they had the largest beer selection I had ever seen. Too bad they didn't carry Big Rock though. For Canadian beers, these American bars are skimpy and usually only carry Labatt (oooh). But in knowing some of our excellent beers like Big Rock and Alexander Keith's, the Americans probably don't want to feel inferior. Don't get me wrong, there's some good beers like ESB, but this Boulevard beer they rant about here isn't that great--in fact, I think it kind of sucks. I told our waitress, who looked exactly like an old friend of mine in Edmonton, that they need more Canadian beers like Keith's, Traditional, and Grasshopper. I'm sure they got right on that.

I dropped my friend off at home and then headed home myself, knowing that I would return to KC for further frivolity.


daisies said...

they should listen to you about the big rock ... i'm betting it would sell really well there ...


puddlesiguess said...

Mike, This is Eric Stevenson, Rich's son. I thought you might want to link to his new site (under construction)-
We're not finished yet, but it is up and running. Thanks, sorry I missed you last weekend ( and the Beamish).