Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You can always pull me through

Listen to this song now! (Seriously click on that link to listen to the whole thing while you read this) --> "Pull Me Through" by Jim Cuddy of the veteran Canadian band Blue Rodeo

Simply put, it's one of my favourites and I'd like to dedicate it to all the people in my life--for their continued support, my dear parents, my sister, my grandma, my aunties and uncles, cousins, my friends and bros in Edmonton and British Columbia, and to all the awesome people I've met and worked with in Kansas who've made the last 7 months in Topeka feel like home, and an amazing experience I'll never forget.

Here's how some grade 8 students in Saskatchewan interpreted this beautiful, perfect song:
Dear Jim Cuddy,

Mr. Cuddy my name is Shelby and I'm in grade eight. I think you're a talented songwriter and your words speak for the misplaced voice in all of us. Your lyrics (*see below) relate to everybody's life in some way also your new album is astonishing...
Now run out and buy Jim's amazing album.

There's nothing like driving through the Northeast Kansas country-side, sun shining, with the top down on a white Mustang convertible listening to this CD in its entirety.
I hope you're traveling well now
And there's stars over your head
And I hope the river carries you
Everywhere you said
God Bless Kansas. Home on the range. And on August 1st, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Best Trip Ever - BC Road Trip 2007 Part II

To Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
Okay, so I left off where I was heading toward the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. If you don't know, when you go by yourself in a car it's about $53 one way. But this was my holiday and I wasn't going to worry about it (although a certain guy named Artie was supposed to come... ahem.) The last time I was on a ferry was back in 1988 when my high school basketball team made a trip to Victoria, but that was from a different terminal. So this was a totally new experience for me and let me tell you, my dear friends and family, it is absolutely spectacular! Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo is one awesome ride.

To Bowser
No, this is not a Sha-Na-Na Revue. Bowser is a little unincorporated hamlet about an hour North from Nanaimo just off the highway next to the East coast of Vancouver Island. And this is where my dear friends Dave and Tara and their 1 yr old son live now. You see, Dave was the drummer in my band and he is simply the best. He was the master of playing any style of rock music, on time, and with true passion. For a bassist like me, there's nothing better than playing with not only a great drummer, but a great guy, and a good friend. Tara is a loving, feisty woman who is an amazing host. We used to party a lot at their house in Edmonton. Now, she's a loving mother again and their son... well let's just say, I look forward to seeing him again. I miss them dearly. We all do. But I can't blame them for moving. It is quite the transition, but a much, much better location. I couldn't be happier for their little family on such a big lot.

Upon arrival, I got out of my car and Dave was right there with our old band beer, Lucky Lager. What a welcome! We had Tara's fantastic butter chicken for dinner (mmmm) and then Dave and I headed to the beach with a six pack and shot the shit into the twilight. Aaahhhh.

Dave was explaining that the islands out there are basically a utopia. No other way to describe it.

To Courtenay/Comox (aka Pamela Anderson's hometown)
Or so I hear. This little town is really growing. In fact, the whole island is. Booming. But ssshhh, no one is supposed to know. It's well developed, has all the typical box chain stores, but has mom-and-pop stores and a small town community feel. It is nestled amongst such beauty with coastal mountains and the inlets. The best part is that WestJet airlines flies from Edmonton to Comox Airforce Base which is next to Courtenay.

Anyway, we drove there for some excellent eggs Benny and took a tour of the area. I gotta tell ya, it's pretty awesome. We also drove up a mountain and found an abandoned ski hill with a couple lifts. It was really surreal.

But sadly and way too quickly, I had to go back to catch the 3pm ferry from Nanaimo back to Horseshoe Bay. One thing I know, I will definitely be back and will likely fly directly there. It's a definite place to consider moving to. Dave and I joked about being in a band together again and playing at local pubs in the area or being a house band at a local bar. Seriously, with a drummer this good, how can I not seriously consider it!

Okay, so that's the second leg of my trip. I have a big video of that, but it's coupled with my drive back to Vancouver, Kelowna wine country, and Vernon/Armstrong, with the final drive home to Edmonton.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More fun at O'Dooley's Irish Pub

This video is of me singing the quintessential Canadian "Trailer Park Boys" song, "Liquor and Whores" by Bubbles.

Here's the original version by Bubbles himself...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"The Best Trip Ever" - British Columbia Road Trip 2007 Part One

During the first week of July, I took some time off, flew home to Edmonton from Kansas, then drove on my own to Vancouver in 12 hours exactly. For my fellow Western Canadians, we all know that the Alberta and BC Rocky Mountains are just awe-inspiring, so this post is mainly for my dear American friends to show you how beautiful Canada is, in case you didn't know. The total trip for me was 3000km (1800 miles) and spent $300 on gas. (It would have been about $200 in the U.S. for those keeping track.)

The drive was a perfect day the whole way with a little rain in Mt. Robson Park (see pic). As some of you know, I have a music ritual which I play. Thankfully, when I mentioned to a friend of mine in Topeka that I was missing Simon and Garkfunkel, unbeknowest to me, went and bought it for me just before I left. How thoughtful.

Okay, so when you're driving from Edmonton to Jasper, when you pass under the iron bridge near Sanguido to pop in a CD -- "Five Days In July" from Blue Rodeo. You see, not only did my trip include five days in July (you see, you see!) but when you're driving by Chip Lake and the highway splits, you should pass a road sign on the right that says "Cynthia 34" right when the chorus for, he song yep you guessed it, "Cynthia" comes on. After that I usually put on more Blue Rodeo, "The Days In Between" album released in 2000. The song "This Road" is perfect for highway driving. "This road, this road. Well it goes on like a dream..." Awesome.

And when travelling through Jasper National Park, I usually put on U2's Joshua Tree, so when the valley opens up, "In God's Country" comes on, 'cause well, basically you are in God's country. But for me this time, the park gate was backed up a half-hour, so it was a bit of a wait.

After that, I'll put on Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits because "Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water" comes on while going over a bridge or driving next to rocky rivers when leaving Jasper.

One of the most fun and scenic drives in the world is from Jasper to Kamloops, BC. Big mountains, lakes, valleys, farms, orchards ... however, when you reach Barriere, you'll note the devastating effect of the pine beetle has had on the forests. This continues on through Kamloops and in parts of the Okanagan Valley. It was a bit devastating for me as I hadn't been through here in over 10 years.

Okay, for all you drivers out there, if you're looking for fuel in Kamloops, don't go into town. You'll get lost. There's a PetroCanada gas station just outside Kamloops. It's the only one right on your drive through. Then you hit the Coquihalla Highway (#5 not #5a folks). It's a $10 toll road for a car, with really steep hills, but it's two lane divided the whole way into Vancouver. Basically, I could go straight to Whistler without hitting and intersection.

I first spent Canada Day n Horseshoe Bay golfing and going for beers at the marina with my two former Edmontonians and bestest buds Brian and Mat. Horseshoe Bay is where the ferry terminal is which is part of West Vancouver and the beginning of the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held. Needless to say, the scenery with the marina, the mountains and the water is so very Zen. I'd love to live there.

Later we hopped on a big boat, toured the Vancouver bay area on a perfect night and watched and celebrated the Canada Day fireworks. I had to take a few photos of Brandy's friend Andrea with the sunset. Then we ended up taking a limo from the boat to The Yale bar where a band called "Brickhouse" was playing. If you're in Vancouver, you gotta go there because they're the house band, start at midnight and play until about 2:30am. You can get drinks up until 3:00am too!

The next day, after going back to The Yale to pick up my credit card (oops), I got on the ferry in Horseshoe Bay and floated to Nanaimo and drove to Bowser to visit my buddy and former drummer Dave and his wife Tara, which they moved to from Edmonton last year.

So if your a friend of mine on Facebook, you can see the photos there. And instead of loading a tonne of photos, instead here's a multimedia slideshow of the first part of my trip!

Click here to see the cool slideshow!
(Song is "The Days In Between" by Blue Rodeo)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

M.W.Bro. Robert A. Drury, Grand Master of Alberta passes

On July 11, I received word that the Grand Master of Alberta, Most Worshipful Brother Robert A. Drury, had passed away suddenly while visiting family in Toronto that morning.

I am greatly saddened by this as I know all brethren in Alberta are. My condolences ring out to his wife, Lorraine, and his family.

I met Bob on several occassions as his lodge, Exemplar #175, meets on the same night as my lodge, across the hallway at Freemasons' Hall. I now deeply regret not having attended the Grand Lodge session in Edmonton back in June when I was home visiting.

Why? Brother Bob was one of those rare, larger-than-life men, who when entering a room, always with a smile, humble in his stature, would light it up so brightly, you knew you'd be in for a special moment. His jokes were legendary. Often when you'd ask him how he was doing, he come back with a witty comment about his own shortcomings. He WAS the name of his lodge, Exemplar, in the truest sense.

His Installation as Grand Master took place just over a month ago on June 9 and having Bob in the big chair, all the brethren were looking forward to what was to be an exciting year of Masonry in Alberta. Now we all share heavy hearts.

The following bit of Masonic ritual from "The General Charge", in my opinion, describes Brother Bob so well, to give you an idea of what he was, and what we all thought of him:

If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who, without blemish, fulfils his duty as a man a subject, a husband and a father; who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and aids his fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship. whose serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair, nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of danger;

The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who in nature sees the finger of the Eternal Master; who feels and adores the higher destination of man; to whom faith, hope and charity are not mere words without any meaning; to whom property, nay, even life, is not too dear for the protection of innocence and virtue, and for the defence of truth;

The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the
debilities of his neighbour; who endeavors to oppose errors without arrogance, and to promote intelligence without impatience; who properly understands how to estimate and employ his means; who honours virtue, though it be in the most humble garment, and who does not favour vice though it be clad in purple; and who administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or cottages;

The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men,
respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never
proclaims what he has done, can do, or will do, but where need is will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion and a rare power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work, and who then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good!

If you, my brethren meet such a man, you will see the personification of brotherly love, relief and truth; and you will have found the ideal of a freemason.

So mote it be! Farewell, my brother. May the Great Architect of the Universe keep you and bless you always.

For more information on Brother Bob, visit www.freemasons.ab.ca (photo above taken therefrom).

(I'll soon be back blogging about my recent week-long road trip through British Columbia, which I have deemed the "Greatest Road Trip Ever", with lots of scenery pictures and stories.)

For now, along with my brethren, I mourn.