Give Generously

Day off – Saskatoon. Today’s diary kicks off on a more somber note. Donny Silva, one of our beloved bus drivers in the US has suddenly found himself in a battle for his life. On his way out from the West coast to meet our crew, he became ill and was admitted to hospital. He has been diagnosed with stage four cancer. The news has obviously shocked the entire traveling entourage and our thoughts and prayers are with Donny and his friends and family. A collection page has been set up, the proceeds from which will help make life a little easier for Donny and his wife Lori at this difficult time. Any support is so greatly appreciated.

As well as a great character, Donny also happens to be a very good golfer so his situation is made all the more poignant today as I head out to play golf with guitar techs Glenn Saggers and Tom Calcattera (TC). Donny would definitely have been with us today, making it a four-ball. If you’re reading this Donny, we were thinking of you out there!

The crew didn’t get to check in to their hotel until 9am and so spent the night on the buses but I managed to contact Glenn and TC and organize a round of golf at the Willows club in Saskatoon. With the taxi booked, we headed South to the course. The weather had been threatening earlier in the week but in the event, it wasn’t that bad and the sun eventually poked out on the back 9. TC and I both packed our clubs and Glenn rented a set of Callaway Razr X’s not dissimilar to the ones I have had fitted for me. Armed with our Galvin Green thermals and windstoppers, there was no way any inclement weather was going to spoil our game. As Mark is always saying in reference to using ‘proper’ guitars, microphones, amplifiers etc., “you’ve gotta have the kit”! Golfing performances aside, it was great to be out enjoying the fresh air all afternoon. We had a couple of drinks in the golf club bar and then headed back to our respective downtown hotels in Saskatoon.

TC and Mr. Saggers..

I layed on the bed, cranked some music and drifted off only to be woken by the phone, tour manager Tim was ringing to say that everyone was meeting at 8:25 in the lobby for dinner at Carver’s Steakhouse. What a dinner it was, pretty spectacular in all departments.

Show Day – Saskatoon.

I woke early again in my room at the newly built James Hotel and looked out across the mighty South Saskatchewan River which I noticed flows in a Northerly direction. A couple of clicks on the computer and I learn it winds its way for 1,939 kilometers from the headwaters of the Bow River until it merges with the main Saskatchewan River, eventually flowing into Canada’s sixth-largest freshwater lake, Lake Winnipeg. Yet further affirmation of this country’s sheer enormousness.

Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada and as a consequence, pretty much everything is closed. It’s also a lot colder than yesterday so my initial plan to go for a riverside walk was put on permanent hold as soon as I’d felt the icy blast on my face as I stepped out onto my balcony to take in the scenery with my camera.

Touring comes with it a fair amount of hanging around, waiting for departure time and I wasted no time in wasting time by listening to music, making copious quantities of tea and generally faffing on the computer. At 3:30 we climbed aboard the buses and headed to the venue through what must be described as a deserted Saskatoon. We arrived at another unremarkable, generic arena and waited our turn to sound-check. Thanksgiving turkey was on the menu in catering but I resisted the temptation to tuck in in the knowledge that turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan which travels in the blood from the digestive system and later enters the brain. The brain then changes the L-tryptophan into Serotonin which calms us down and helps us sleep. Not what you need before a show!

Ian (Ianto) Thomas at the FOH desks

Mike busy practicing on my Martin HD-28…

The array of FOH (Front Of House) desks..

It was another great gig, loads of energy and a great crowd who could easily have stayed home in a post-turkey comatose state in front of the telly. Thank you to all who ventured out in the cold to see us and Bob.
The after-show drive to Edmonton was scheduled to take roughly six hours so we settled in and had a few glasses of wine, trying to stay up for as long as possible before hitting the bunks. I went forward into the cab to have a chat with Jason, our driver. Looking a head, I saw what looked at first like light from a distant city, but it was green. Green? I asked Jason “is that the Aurora Borealis?”. “Yes, sir it is”.

With camera always at hand, I managed to take this long exposure shot.