I went home for a couple days while the bus rolled on to Canada for two days off this week. Look at this picture of the flooding that occurred in Toronto right before the band arrived:
It made getting to the Molson Canadian Amphitheater a bit of an adventure for all involved. Our terrific and usually interpersonally-savvy bus driver, Kevin, had a not-so-bright moment entering the country while the rest of the band and crew were asleep in their bunks. The Canadian border patrol folks started in with the usual questions — what’s the band name? where are you performing? do you have your work papers? are you selling any merchandise?
The interview was going smoothly when Kevin was asked if there were any firearms on the bus:
“Not that I know of” said Kevin.
Everyone wake up. Put on some shorts. Off the bus, into the holding tank at the Canadian Customs Agency. Bring on the genital-sniffing dogs. Thanks Kevin. We’re lucky they didn’t search Guster’s cavities.
Meanwhile after two lovely but sleepless (twin babies) days at home, I nearly missed the Toronto show — a four hour delay at JFK airport followed by a $53 cab to “somewhere in the vicinity of The Molson Canadian Theater”… flooding and some strange Canadian NASCAR race had rendered the area around the theater confusing and “unapproachable” — at least according to my cab driver, who told me that I merely needed to walk for a few minutes across a pedestrian foot bridge to reach my destination, while in the car it’d take forever to work through the traffic and detours.
I eagerly accepted this explanation and showed my earnest NYC love for pedestrianism by hopping out of the car and paying him fifty three bucks and wishing him well as he drove off. I think I was blowing him kisses. Then I walked right into a 7 foot tall chain link fence with no openings in it. This fence stretched on for miles. I was in a strange parking lot. There was a middle aged woman in this parking lot, talking on her phone. Now I am in Alice in Wonderland.
The woman is trying to explain to her son where she is, and waving her arms randomly to no one in particular. I wonder how many years she’s been in this parking lot. On the other side of the fence is a dead highway. I can hear race cars zipping by across another fence. The woman on the phone is my only hope.
She asks where I’m going and then laughs when I say I am trying to get to the Molson Amphitheater on foot. She tells me my only option is to hop the fence and cross the highway to get to the bridge. Then she turned into a hobbit. No. Then she went back to her phone call and left me to my own judgment.
The fence was taller than I was. I had a backpack with my toiletries, some clean clothes, and a laptop computer in it. I also had a cardboard box with three snare heads in it. The top of the fence was not a smooth horizontal pipe, but pointy jagged sawed-off chain links. I walked up and down looking for an entry point. I found a tree.
Now I am in a tree and I never have been good at climbing trees. I am going on whatever sleep I got in a chair at Terminal 2 during my delay at JFK. I am trying to plop my luggage over a fence, onto a highway, so I can get to my show before it starts. I manage to hurl the cardboard box with the drum heads in it over the fence. Vertigo. I decide the tree is a bad idea and I climb down.
I am now officially committed to this fence plan. I’ve thrown about 60 dollars worth of drum heads over the fence, onto an abandoned highway. I doubt I can climb the fence at all, but I certainly can’t climb it with this backpack. So I reach up and dangle it over the fence, dropping it so it lands on the cardboard box, and hopefully not smashing my computer to bits. This is so dumb. I am so dumb. Why does this always? I am doubly committed now. In addition to my drum heads, my electronic toothbrush, passport, and laptop are sitting on the pavement on the other side of this fence.
Using the tree to sort of shimmy myself up, I awkwardly get a leg up on top of the 7 foot fence. I am definitely bleeding in one, maybe two places. I cannot rest my torso on top of the spiky fence and flop over, so I have to pretty much perch myself on top and just jump. Standing semi-upright on the fence, my legs are shaking and I start wobble. I make sure to fall on the highway side, but the rubber on my shoe gets snagged on the loose top fencing and my legs give out when I land. It is not pretty. I look up for the hobbit-woman, and she didn’t see it. She is too busy waving her arms at an imaginary person. I brush myself off and walk to my concert. I passed a 17 year old kid on the way, talking on his phone and looking around frantically, and pointed him towards his insane mother.
So it should come as no surprise that, while the Guster set went off without a hitch, I brain farted my guest appearance with Barenaked Ladies on Brian Wilson. I was sitting content in a leather chair in our dressing room, actually checking out Andy Creegan’s conga parts on the original Brian Wilson recording from the album Gordon, when Ryan Miller busted into the dressing room, and said “you have no idea what just happened, do you?”
What happened was that my song came and went, and Ed Robertson was stuck on stage introducing a Thundergod that never came. Lucky for me, BNL is the one band incapable of having an awkward moment on stage — they actually changed the lyric of the song from “lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did” to “lying in bed, just like Brian Rosenworcel is”… that is some serious flow.
And I think lucky for me, an inebriated Ryan Miller stumbled out on stage and played conga during Brian Wilson in my stead. Thanks for bailing me out Ryan! Now everyone knows that banging on hand drums is easy as pie. A bunch of people saw Ryan on their way out of the concert and said “there’s the bongo player dude!”